ungrateful wretches

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,

One sentence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:

"If Marmee shook her fist instead of kissing her hand to us, it would serve us right, for more ungrateful wretches than we are were never seen," cried Jo, taking a remorseful satisfaction in the snowy walk and bitter wind.

I can't understand "for more...." part. What/who were never seen?
Please help.

Gil
 
  • Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    'For' here means 'because'.

    If Marmee shook her fist instead of kissing her hand to us, it would serve us right, because we are the most ungrateful wretches that have ever been seen.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    'For' here means 'because'.

    If Marmee shook her fist instead of kissing her hand to us, it would serve us right, because we are the most ungrateful wretches that have ever been seen.
    Thank you.

    It is far easier to understand your sentence. I think the original sentence should be written as "for (those who are) more ungrateful than we are were never seen."
    I don't know why the author would do that way. The only thing I know is if I wrote this way, my English teacher would flip out.
     

    Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thank you.

    It is far easier to understand your sentence. I think the original sentence should be written as "for (those who are) more ungrateful than we are were never seen."
    I don't know why the author would do that way. The only thing I know is if I wrote this way, my English teacher would flip out.
    The original sentence is more complex, to be sure, but it's good English (if a little overwrought). If your English teacher wouldn't accept it, that would be a mistake on their part. Remember that it's reported speech, so presumably the style is designed to tell us something about Jo. One reason the author might have written it this way is to demonstrate that the character of Jo is a bit theatrical, maybe a bit pompous. I'm not quite sure whether that's correct because I haven't actually read Little Women, but it's possible. There are lots of different ways to write most sentences and presumably Alcott had an artistic reason for choosing this one.
     

    gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    The original sentence is more complex, to be sure, but it's good English (if a little overwrought). If your English teacher wouldn't accept it, that would be a mistake on their part. Remember that it's reported speech, so presumably the style is designed to tell us something about Jo. One reason the author might have written it this way is to demonstrate that the character of Jo is a bit theatrical, maybe a bit pompous. I'm not quite sure whether that's correct because I haven't actually read Little Women, but it's possible. There are lots of different ways to write most sentences and presumably Alcott had an artistic reason for choosing this one.
    Thank you.
    I am impressed.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    The original sentence is more complex, to be sure, but it's good English (if a little overwrought). If your English teacher wouldn't accept it, that would be a mistake on their part. Remember that it's reported speech, so presumably the style is designed to tell us something about Jo. One reason the author might have written it this way is to demonstrate that the character of Jo is a bit theatrical, maybe a bit pompous. I'm not quite sure whether that's correct because I haven't actually read Little Women, but it's possible. There are lots of different ways to write most sentences and presumably Alcott had an artistic reason for choosing this one.
    I have read Little Women and I agree completely. ;)
     
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