one would rather die than speak to one's brother

Acyang

Member
Chinese - China
Of course, she thought, walking on, Milly is about my age--fifty, fifty-two. So it is probably that, Hugh's manner had said so, said it perfectly--dear old Hugh, thought Mrs Dalloway, remembering with amusement, with gratitude, with emotion, how shy, like a brother—one would rather die than speak to one's brother--Hugh had always been, when he was at Oxford, and came over, and perhaps one of them (drat the thing!) couldn't ride.

The part which I cannot understand is “one would rather die than speak to one's brother”. What does this sentence mean? Does it mean "Hugh is like a brother who would rather die than speak to his brother" or "Hugh is like a brother who you would rather die than speak to".
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It uses the "impersonal" pronoun "one*". It means, in general, a person (any person) would rather die than speak to their brother. You is also used like this "You would rather die than speak to your brother." It does not refer to any specific person or brother.

    *
    one , pronoun: any person or thing; people in general:One shouldn't cry over spilled milk (= People in general, including the speaker, shouldn't get upset about things that can't be fixed.)
     
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