...made more difficult by the news that...

orchard

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi!

Below is an extract from the book "the Bridge of San Luis Rey", by Thornton Wilder.

And everywhere he went, like a perfume, her dear traits had survived her and wherever she was mentioned there arose a suffering smile and the protest that words could not describe the gracious ways of her. Even the eager youth of her grandchildren, who had never seen her, was made more difficult by the news that it was possible to be as good as that.
I am not sure if I quite understood the sentence in bold. It says to me something like "Even they (the eager youth of her grandchildren, who had never seen her) were so sure of her being the best person ever to have lived that it would have been something difficult for them to comprehend if they had been told that it was possible to be as good as that."

How shoud I understand the word "difficult", and the phrase "by the news" here?

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    No. I interpret it not as a "they", but as an "it". Here, the word "youth" means the period in the lives of her grandchildren during which they (the grandchildren) were young.
    We normally expect young children to live happy, carefree lives. But here, their lives (when they were young) were made more difficult by the news that...
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Agreed. It's their youth that is made difficult — by the knowledge that the grandmother they never knew is considered to have been so perfect. (I'm not sure why the word "news" is used?)
     

    orchard

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Thank you both. I should have realised that the singular form of "youth" was used. But what kind of meaning does the word "difficult" have here? Is it something like "...made it for them difficult to cope with the fact that such level of goodness was possible."?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Perhaps they felt it was something they could never live up to. They could never be as good as her, but they might feel it was expected of them.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "News" suggests that the grandchildren have just been told of this (which perhaps is true?). If they'd known for some time, I would have expected a word like "knowledge".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top