Things were going rather far if he could not choose~

park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
The protagonist, Philip moved in with his uncle Mr. Carey, the Vicar of Blackstable after his mother's death.
The protagonist, Philip, came to Paris to become a painter.
After two years, he came to Blackstable for his aunt's sudden death.
Mr. Carey discusses with the churchwarden the tombstone inscription for Mr. Carey's late wife.
............................................
The Vicar answered with some acidity, and Mr. Graves replied in a tone which the widower thought too authoritative for the occasion. Things were going rather far if he could not choose his own text for his own wife's tombstone. There was a pause, and then the conversation drifted to parish matters.
[Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham]
I'd like to know if "things were going rather far" indicates certainty, whereas "things would go rather far" indicates probability.
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It's an idiomatic phrase meaning roughly "The situation was becoming intolerable". Mr. Carey was thinking to himself that it was too much to pout up with if he couldn't even decide the text for his own wife's tombstone.
    After two years, he came to Blackstable for his aunt's sudden death.
    ...because of his aunt's sudden death. Or ...for his aunt's funeral.
    If you say he came to Blackstable for his aunt's death, it sounds as if he came there in anticipation of his aunt's death.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, Barque, for your so very helpful answer. :)
    If you say he came to Blackstable for his aunt's death, it sounds as if he came there in anticipation of his aunt's death.
    Now I see; Thanks a lot.

    I was wondering what difference there is between "things were going rather far," and "things would be going rather far."
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    The use of "would be going" suggests a hypothetical situation. If I'm not allowed to choose the inscription for my own wife's tombstone, things would be going too/rather far.
     
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