What does reluctant, eager mean together here? As I translate these terms are opposite separately. And where is the main verb here after the subject? Could someone explain grammar of Meg reluctant, eager to get...

They went up the path to the house, Meg reluctant, eager to get on into the town. ‘Let’s hurry,’ she begged, ‘please! Don’t you want to find father?’

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


This is very much dependent on the context of the story.

I think I can explain the meaning of the sentence, someone else can maybe help with the grammar.

Meg did not want to go to the house, because she wanted to "get into the town" (go to the town instead of going to the house). She was reluctant to go to the house because she is eager to "get on into the town" to find their father.

I have not read this book/story, but I am pretty sure she is saying to someone "I don't want to go to the house. I want to go to town and find father"

|improve this answer|||||
  • You are right with meaning, but why it is used without verb 'to be' after 'Meg'... – Vitaly May 11 '19 at 15:26
  • I believe that type of writing is common in books/novels. I don't have a good explanation without researching further. It just makes sense to me. But I think you actually raise a great question now that I have had time to think about it. There is a difference in written English and spoken English that is often misunderstood. In spoken English you would say something like "Meg is reluctant and eager to get into the town". Maybe someone else can help explain the difference. – wavery May 12 '19 at 5:03
  • It's an absolute construction, @Vitaly. As Wavery says, it is much more common in literary prose than in spoken English. – Colin Fine Nov 19 '19 at 9:41

They went up the path to the house, Meg reluctant, eager to get on into the town.

  • They are going up the path to a house.
  • Meg is eager to go into the town.

So she's reluctant to go to the house because she's eager to go somewhere else.

You seem to understand that both adjectives apply to the same subject (Meg), hence the confusion, so once you understand that her reluctance is connected to the first clause it should be clear that the grammar is correct.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.