Is it backshift? If I understand correctly, in novels writers need to change all the present tense in the text into past tense. We call it backshift. I have encountered a sentence on The Shining as follows: She looked out the kitchen window and saw him just sitting there on the curb, not playing with his trucks or the wagon or even the balsa glider (that had pleased him so much all the last week since Jack had brought it home.) The clause in brackets seems a backshift of "that had pleased him so much all the last week since Jack brought it home". It seems the toy glider had pleased him(the son) for all the last week. But afterwards, something happened which inhibited his interest in the glider. So long before the time she(his mother) saw him sitting there he had already lost interest in the glider. Do I understand correctly? Thank you.And there is one thing I don't understand. It seems unnecessary to change "brought" into "had brought", even if for the sake of backshift. Do you think so?
Jan 30, 2017 6:34 PM
Answers · 1
I believe your understanding is correct. I think the author uses 'had brought' because we like tenses to match in English. You are correct that maybe it's not completely necessary but it feels awkward to use just 'brought.' Hope that helps.
January 30, 2017
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