The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks The Theodore Dreiser Page
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From The Lost Phoebe by Theodore Dreiser
Noun Absolutes Ex # 5
Analysis Key

1. Once {in his weird mood} he thought [DO he saw a pale light moving [#1] {about

the room}], | and another time [NuA] he thought [DO he saw her walking [#1] {in 

the orchard} {after dark}]. |
 

2. He had not seen the aged farmer (DO) {in months}, not {since his wife's death}, |

and he wondered now, seeing him looking so spry [#2]. |
 

3. They could not see him [#3], {with homely rural understanding and forethought}

sheltering [#3] himself {in hay-cocks}, or {by the sides} {of cattle}, [Adj. to "cattle"

whose [#4] warm bodies protected him (DO) {from the cold}], and [Adj. to "cattle"

whose [#4] dull understandings were not opposed (P) {to his harmless presence}]. |
 

4. Sometimes, {after throwing away his cane [#5]}, and {*after* finding [#6] it 

indicating the direction [#6] [Adj. to "direction" {from which} he had just come]}, he

would shake his head (DO) wearily and philosophically, [ [#7] as if *he were

contemplating the unbelievable (DO) or an untoward fate (DO)], and then start

briskly off. |
 

5. He had been expecting and dreaming of this hour (DO) [#8] all these years 

[NuA], | and now [ [#9] as he saw the feeble light dancing [#10] lightly {before him}] he

peered {at it} questioningly, one thin hand *being* [#11] {in his gray hair}. |


Notes
1. "Light moving" and "her walking" are noun absolutes that functions as the direct object of "saw."
2. "Seeing" is a gerundive that modifies "he." "Him looking ... spry" is a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "seeing." Within the absolute, "him" is the subject and "spry" is a predicate adjective of the gerundive "looking."
3. "Him ... sheltering himself" is the core of a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "could not see." "Him" is the subject, and "himself" is the direct object of "sheltering." On the sliding scale between gerundive as modifier and noun absolute, this example provides a very strong case for the noun absolute explanation. They could and did see "him" What they could not see was him sheltering himself.... 
4. Note that "whose" functions simultaneously as subordinating conjunction and as an adjective to "bodies," and, in the following clause, to "understandings."
5. "Cane" is the direct object of the gerund "throwing" which functions as the object of the preposition.
6. "Finding" is another object of the preposition "after." "It indicating ... direction" is the core of a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "finding."
7. This semi-reduced clause functions as an adverb to "wearily" and "philosophically."
8. For those who prefer not to view "of" as part of the finite verb, "hour" functions as the direct object of "had been expecting" and also as the object of the preposition "of."
9. This clause can be explained as an adverb to "now," which modifies "peered," or the clause itself can be explained as modifying "peered."
10. "Light dancing" is the core of a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "saw."
11. "Hand *being*" is the core of a noun absolute that functions as an adverb to "peered."