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After a few hours the road began to be rough, and the walking grew so difficult that the Scarecrow often stumbled over the yellow bricks, which were here very uneven. Sometimes, indeed, they were broken or missing altogether, leaving holes that Toto jumped across and Dorothy walked around. As for the Scarecrow, having no brains, he walked straight ahead, and so stepped into the holes and fell at full length on the hard bricks. It never hurt him, however, and Dorothy would pick him up and set him upon his feet again, while he joined her in laughing merrily at his own mishap.

The farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back. There were fewer houses and fewer fruit trees, and the farther they went, the more dismal and lonesome the country became.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I don't understand the meaning of "as they were farther back" in this context. Can someone help me out?

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    It's not very well expressed. I read it at first as meaning because they were further from the road, then I realised that the sense is not so well cared for as the ones they had seen earlier in the journey. Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 12:53

1 Answer 1

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They were walking and the thing were becoming rough:

After a few hours the road began to be rough...

and also:

The farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back.

So, "farther back" refers to the place where they were few hours before.

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  • So, "they" refers to "farms" or persons(Dorothy, Scarecrow)?
    – dan
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 12:04
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    "They" refers to the farms, which is the only subject used in that sentence. "The farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back." You see that "were" first refers to "farms" and then to "they", so "were" refers to farms in both cases.
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 12:07
  • ok, well, the next 'they' in "the farther they went" is actually refers to Dorothy and Scarecrow. Now I see it thanks!
    – dan
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 12:11

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