that he’s always made to feel first

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "that he’s always made to feel first" means in the following sentences:

Sensing the sibling discord, Mummy interjected, “What matters is that Archie believes that he is the most important thing in your life, that he’s always made to feel first. Madge, it sounds like Agatha is doing exactly that”—she paused for a smile at her youngest daughter—“all the while managing a successful career. The serialization of The Mysterious Affair at Styles in the Weekly Times was quite a coup, Agatha, and I’m guessing a financially beneficial one as well, and I’m sure The Secret Adversary is the same. I only wish Auntie-Grannie had lived to see it.”

- Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Part One, Chapter Twenty-Three

This is a mystery novel published in the United States in 2020. The story is mainly set at the present time in 1926, when Agatha Christie suddenly went missing for eleven days, but also goes back to the past time in the 1910's. In this scene, set in 1921, the narrator Agatha is at her mother's house Ashfield over Christmas to meet her older sister Madge. When Agatha says that she had struck a happy balance between her writing and house management, Madge is implying at the fact that Agatha might be stretched a little thin while attempting to manage the house and to write novels simultaneously.

In this part, I wonder what "that he’s always made to feel first" would mean.

(1) About the structure of this part, would it be connected to as in "What matters is that he's always made to feel first"? Or as in "What matters is that Archie believes that he's always made to feel first"? There are many "that"s so I wonder to which part this "that" is connected. :D

(2) As to the meaning of "be made to feel first," would it be okay to think that it means "Archie is rendered so that he might feel that he comes first in Agatha's life"...?


I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    (1) About the structure of this part, would it be connected to as in "What matters is that he's always made to feel first"? Or as in "What matters is that Archie believes that he's always made to feel first"?
    I don't see the distinction you are trying to make. What Mummy appears to be saying is that what matters (to Agatha, in her life and marriage) is that Archie is always made to feel that he is first. In other words, it is important that Archie feels that he his more important to Agatha than Agatha's writing. This does seem to me to be a rather unsympathetic thing for her to say, but perhaps it matches the impression that Agatha is trying to give, and she does at least support Agatha (against Madge), in saying that Agatha achieves this.
    (2) As to the meaning of "be made to feel first," would it be okay to think that it means "Archie is rendered so that he might feel that he comes first in Agatha's life"...?
    You have the right meaning, but "rendered" is not used like this. It tends to be used for negative things.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    So, according to her mother, what matters is (1) Archie believes he is the most important thing in your life, and (2) Archie is always made to feel first.

    I was confused if the sentence is connected like this: "Archie believes that he is the most... and believes that he's always made to..." But I guess "Archie believes" is only applied to "that he is the most important thing" rather than "that he's always made to feel first."

    Come to think of it, if "Archie believes" also modifies "he's always made to feel first," the verb "believe" might seem superfluous because there is already "feel" there.

    And, by "be made to feel first," it would mean that it is caused by Agatha that Archie feels/thinks he comes first in Agatha's life, even before her writing. (I couldn't find a suitable alternative of "make" so I settled on "cause"... :D)

    I sincerely appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)
     
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