there was in them mingling <as the afternoon wore on> with the crude stench of humanity.

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park sang joon

Senior Member
The protagonist, Philip moved in with his uncle Mr. Carey, the Vicar of Blackstable after his mother's death.
He goes to the medical school St. Luke's in London.

Here the patients waited after having been given their `letters' at mid-day; and the long rows of them, bottles and gallipots in hand, some tattered and dirty, others decent enough, sitting in the dimness, men and women of all ages, children, gave one an impression which was weird and horrible.
; and there was in them an odour of disinfectants, mingling as the afternoon wore on with the crude stench of humanity.
[Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham]
I'd like to know if "as the afternoon wore on" is parenthetical.
Thank you in advance for your help.
  • goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I think that element is too important to be considered parenthetical, because the passage of time is what adds people's body odor to the odor of the room. In other words, as people sit there (and, perhaps, as the temperature of the room increases), their personal body odors gradually permeate the room and mingle with the chemical odors of the hospital.

    Without "as the afternoon wore on", the sentence no longer depicts the room's transformation over time from antiseptic cleanliness to human "funk". :) And it's also a daily phenomenon, I would think, in that it "resets" when the staff clean and fumigate the room afresh each day.
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