What's the meaning of this sentence?

Much as I disliked the sponging process, and useless as it had been to suggest that the help of a guiding hand as far as the bathroom could eliminate it, its failure to occur was highly disconcerting.

I run into it while studying for the FIRST exam.

Specifically I don't understand the "as far as the bathroom" part.

The sentence comes from a book called the "The Day of the Triffids". Here you can see the sentence in context:


  • 1
    Sentences like this are always easier to understand in context.
    – user230
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    But not everyone else has the context, and they need to understand the sentence to write an answer, so it helps if you can share that context in your post.
    – user230
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 22:18
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    It means that if someone could guide the writer to the bathroom, he could wash himself, instead of needing to be sponged, but "useless" says that was an impossible suggestion. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 22:19
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    (It also doesn't help that the parenthetical information is incomplete. It should read could eliminate this process in order to be a properly non-essential aside.) Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 22:23
  • 2
    @JasonBassford OP omitted it at the end of the clause, which I have restored. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


"...the use of a guiding hand" is a complex way of saying "some help". "...as far as the bathroom" indicates that he could not get that far by himself, and likely means the distance from his bed, or maybe chair, to the bathroom to wash.

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