For fear that the mending of broken hearts be a puzzle

Discussion in 'English Only' started by germanictamoon, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. germanictamoon

    germanictamoon Senior Member

    India, West Uttar Pradesh
    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.
     
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    "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.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015

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