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

From “The Lost Phoebe,” by Theodore Dreiser
Noun Absolutes Ex # 1
Analysis Key

1. He fell asleep [#1] {after a time}, his head *being* [#2] {on his knees}. |
 

2. He quivered and watched it (DO) eagerly; | but a faint breath {of air} stirring 

[#3], it wound away {toward the fence} and disappeared. |
 

3. “Well,” [Inj] [Inj [#4] he said {to himself}, his mouth *being* open [#5] ], “I

thought shore [DO I saw her (DO)]|
 

4. Yet here she was now, bending [#6] {over the table} {in her black skirt and gray shawl},

her pale profile outlined [#7] {against the moonlight}. |
 

5. And out he marched {in the face} {of her protests} taking [#8] {to the dusty road}

again {in the warm spring sun}, his cane striking [#9] the earth [Adv. to "striking" as he

went]. |


Notes
1. "Asleep" can be explained as an adverb to "fell," or as a predicate adjective in a palimpsest pattern with "fell" written over "became," but the easiest explanation is probably to consider "fall asleep" to be idiomatic, i.e., a vocabulary phrase.
2. "His head *being* on his knees" is a noun absolute that functions as an adverb to "fell asleep."
3. "Breath ... stirring" is a noun absolute. The absolute phrase functions as an adverb to "wound" and "disappeared."
4. See "Subordinate Clauses as Interjections or Direct Objects."
5. "Mouth *being* open" is a noun absolute that functions as an adverb to "said." "Open" is a predicate adjective after the ellipsed "being."
6. Without the comma before it, I would consider "bending" as part of the finite verb phrase "was bending." The comma, however, breaks the connection, so I consider "bending" to be a gerundive that modifies "she." I would not, however, tell a student who marked it as part of the finite verb phrase that he or she is wrong.
7. "Profile outlined" is the core of a noun absolute that functions as an adverb to "bending" and/or "was."
8. "Taking" is a gerundive to "he."
9. "Cane" is the subject, and "earth" is the direct object in the noun absolute "cane striking ... earth." The absolute phrase functions as an adverb to "taking" and/or "marched."