The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks The Theodore Dreiser Page
(Code and Color Key)

From The Lost Phoebe, by Theodore Dreiser
Delayed Subjects - Ex # 5
Analysis Key

Note: These are interesting sentences that can be explained in terms of delayed subjects, but which will probably raise some questions (and objections). You are welcome to try to find explanations in other grammar textbooks. If you do, please let me know what they are. [Please note, however, that we are interested in textbooks for the general public, not linguistic texts that would require years of study of a totally different grammatical theory.]

1. {In age} and {with the feeble} it is not such a far cry (PN) {from the subtleties}

{of illusion} {to actual hallucination} [#1], | and {in due time} this transition was

made (P) {for Henry}. |
 

2. [ [#2] How he had arrived {at this conclusion}] it is hard (PA) to say [#2]. |
 

3. It was a question (PN) now not so much {of physical strength} but {of spiritual 

endurance} [ [#3] which kept him (DO) up]. |


Notes
1. Are these prepositional phrases that function as a delayed subject? "From the subtleties
of illusion to actual hallucination is not such a far cry." Those people who do not want to accept prepositional phrases as subjects can see the subject as ellipsed -- "The distance from ...." What may be most interesting in this sentence is not the syntactic analysis, but rather the way in which the syntactic analysis pushes us to re-see the meaning of "far cry." A "far cry" is one that can be heard over a long distance. I would not, bu the way, argue with anyone who wanted to explain these prepositional phrases simply as adverbs to "is."
2. One could explain this clause as an unusual case of a delayed subject that precedes the subject. (That is, perhaps, a stretch, but the sentence does mean "How he had arrived at this conclusion is hard to say.") The clause could also be considered as an appositive to "it," but the best explanation is probably to consider it as the direct object of the infinitive "to say." That infinitive functions as an adverb to "hard."
3. The easiest explanation of this clause is that it functions as a delayed subject -- "What kept him up was a question of ...."