For fear that the mending of broken hearts be a puzzle

germanictamoon

Senior Member
Hindi (West Uttar Pradesh)
Hi all,
this is the last line from the 'The Hellbound Heart' by Clive Barker:

'But if it failed to show itself she would not grieve too deeply, for fear that the mending of broken hearts be a puzzle neither wit nor time had the skill to solve'.

Context: It here refers to a puzzle box that could show her the whereabouts of her deceased lover.

I cannot understand why the subjunctive 'be' has been used in 'for fear that the mending of broken hearts be a puzzle' and what is the meaning of the this part ?


Thank you very much.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I cannot understand why the subjunctive 'be' has been used in 'for fear that the mending of broken hearts be a puzzle' and what is the meaning of the this part ?
    "Be" in this language is an old-fashioned use of the present subjunctive after the phrase "For fear that." I'd probably use "could" or "might" to express the same idea: ...for fear that the mending of broken hearts could/might be a puzzle that...

    To me, this is awkward, unnatural language. :rolleyes: I have no idea why Barker chose to write like this, but I don't like this sentence at all. I suppose it means that she has decided not to grieve because she is afraid that she won't be able to figure out how to mend her broken heart.
     
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