I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into <that in horror she refused to live.>

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

Excerpt from
The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham

Hi. Is the bold part a relative clause modifying “abyss of cruelty”?
Thank you.
 
  • koper2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

    Excerpt from
    The Moon and Sixpence
    W Somerset Maugham

    Hi. Is the bold part a relative clause modifying “abyss of cruelty”?
    Thank you.
    No. "that in horror she refused to live" is a content clause introduced by the subordinator "that"; in that content clause, the preposition phrase "in horror" is an adjunct (adverbial). That content clause is a kind of comment upon the main clause of the sentence, i.e. I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into.
     
    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

    Excerpt from
    The Moon and Sixpence
    W Somerset Maugham

    Hi. Is the bold part a relative clause modifying “abyss of cruelty”?
    Thank you.
    Why don't you try a simpler sentence. "I wonder what breed{A} of dog she had owned{B} that* she refused{C} to forget."

    OP {Maugham}: I wondered what an {a}abyss of cruelty she must have looked-into{b}** that in horror she refused{c} to live.

    It's clear that the bolded part is modifying clause which refers to 'abyss' in the original or 'breed' in my example.

    I disagree with Koper that it's a comment on the main clause beginning "I wondered...."

    *ADDED. Comma deleted. Typo.
    ** CORRECTED to clarify the scope of {b}
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think it's a noun clause (content clause). This is old-fashioned usage.

    It's more like the contruction: She was so terrified that... It was such a deep abyss that....
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all.
    Why don't you try a simpler sentence. "I wonder what breed{A} of dog she had owned{B} that, she refused{C} to forget."

    OP {Maugham}: I wondered what an {a}abyss of cruelty she must have looked{b} into that in horror she refused{c} to live.

    It's clear that the bolded part is modifying clause which refers to 'abyss' in the original or 'breed' in my example.
    I don’t quite think your example is comparable with the op one. First, I don’t know understand why you put a comma between “that” and “she” in your example; second, the op sentence contains a exclamation clause while your example a what-clause; third, it’s not clear why you split the phrase “look into” and “refuse to forget/live”. Therefore, I am afraid I don’t follow you, sorry. Could you clarify your explanation?
    I don't think it's a noun clause (content clause). This is old-fashioned usage.

    It's more like the contruction: She was so terrified that... It was such a deep abyss that....
    I guess, in those times, it is common to use a that-clause after an exclamation clause to introduce a result. Make sense?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes.
    Here - see 4b in particular - is how the OED describes this use of "that":
    4. Introducing a clause expressing the result or consequence of what is stated in the principal clause: with verb usually in indicative.
    a. With antecedent so or such, either in the principal clause, or immediately before that in the subord. clause (see so adv. and conj., such adj. and pron.).
    [...]​
    b. Simply, without antecedent: = so that. arch[aic].
    [...]​
    1719 D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 96 The fear..made me that I never slept.​
    1858 G. MacDonald Phantastes xix I struck one more sturdy blow..that the forest rang.​
    1868 Tennyson Lucretius 66 A fire..scorch'd me that I woke.​
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

    In the underlined subordinate clause, that is — as Loob has shown — a conjunction expressing result. As in:

    She was sufficiently pleased that she gave him a good tip
    It was so dark that we could hardly see
    Her horror was such that she tried to take her life
     
    Thank you all.

    I don’t quite think your example is comparable with the op one. First, I don’t know understand why you put a comma between “that” and “she” in your example; second, the op sentence contains a exclamation clause while your example a what-clause; third, it’s not clear why you split the phrase “look into” and “refuse to forget/live”. Therefore, I am afraid I don’t follow you, sorry. Could you clarify your explanation?

    I guess, in those times, it is common to use a that-clause after an exclamation clause to introduce a result. Make sense?
    I've clarified/corrected the punctuation. I hope things are clearer. Second, your proposal of 'exclamation clause', I do not accept. Sorry you did not find the parallel useful. If you have your theory of the sentence, say it. Do you really want to dispute with native speakers?
     

    koper2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I guess, in those times, it is common to use a that-clause after an exclamation clause to introduce a result. Make sense?
    Indeed, I think that what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into (a complement of the predicator wondered) is an exclamative clause. It can't be, in my opinion, an open interrogative clause functioning as a complement of wondered in I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live. I see it as What an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into! (when expressed as the main clause, not as a subordinate one.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Do you really want to dispute with native speakers?
    Benny, I don't think thetazuo was "disputing with native speakers". He was, on the one hand, asking you for clarification, and on the other hand, agreeing with veli.

    As to his "exclamation" comment, I think this is an issue for another thread: this thread is about the that-clause.

    Unlike thetazuo, I would, myself, dispute your explanation in post 3. But I guess that's obvious from post 6:).
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all again.
    Sorry, Benny, if my reply is inappropriate. Loob has explained my intention (to ask for clarification) for me. I want no dispute. :) But I’m surprised that you say my proposal of “exclamation clause” is unacceptable. Perhaps I need to start another thread to discuss it.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The original sentence is a form of indirect speech: it is reporting the speaker's earlier thoughts. I could read it as reporting either a rhetorical question or an exclamation.

    "She must have looked into" rather than "she had looked into" suggests that it is in fact a reported exclamation. However, "I wondered...." suggests a rhetorical question.

    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.
     
    The original sentence is a form of indirect speech: it is reporting the speaker's earlier thoughts. I could read it as reporting either a rhetorical question or an exclamation.

    "She must have looked into" rather than "she had looked into" suggests that it is in fact a reported exclamation. However, "I wondered...." suggests a rhetorical question.

    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.

    Yes, well explained. I choose the second**. IF the sentence simply had said, I thought, What an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into!
    I'd agree with 'exclamation'.

    BUT the bolded part framed, at least implicitly, a question, and this is reinforced by "I wonder."

    **ADDED: Actually, there is something of a real question, implicit. So, semi-rhetorical; she is clearly not asking anyone for an answer.
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I like velisarius’s explanation too. And I agree that it’s a question, but I’m not sure whether it qualifies as rhetorical?

    The “what” in that sentence can be seen as an interrogative determiner, since it relates to a question rather than a statement (to wonder is to ask oneself).
    So the direct speech version would have been:

    “What abyss of cruelty must she have looked into, that in horror she refused to live?” I asked myself.
    Leading to the reported version:
    I wondered what an abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all again. I’m not certain if it is a rhetorical question either.
    So the direct speech version would have been:

    “What abyss of cruelty must she have looked into, that in horror she refused to live?” I asked myself.
    Hi. Why do you leave out “an” between “What” and “abyss” in the direct speech version?
    Or I’d like to ask this way: since the what clause is a question, as all of you said, why the sentence isn’t written as “I wondered what abyss of cruelty she must have looked into that in horror she refused to live”? (No “an”) The presence of “an” makes it look like an exclamation.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The addition of “an” in the original is a little odd – maybe that’s how it might have been written in the past? I left it out intentionally because in modern English it would work with an exclamation but not a question, as in:

    What mess do you mean?
    What a mess you’ve made!
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Please remind me what hangs on this possible distinction, here. Does the decision really come down to the presence of one article?
    I think we're discussing it because thetazuo suggested it was an exclamation and you disagreed - no?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I've just remembered the quotation that was knocking around somewhere at the back of my mind when I read the thread title. It's from Hamlet:

    "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her?"


    That is clearly a question, rather than an exclamation. It differs from the OED examples without "so", in that there is no cause and effect here.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks. I get you, Veli.
    It seems whether the clause in the op example is an exclamation or a question is debatable. Maybe the wording of the op example is ambiguous?
     
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