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Most of the other passengers looked like businesspeople - nicely dressed and using laptop computers. There was a family with two little kids, and the boy reminded me of Dylan. I'd been gone only a few hours, and already I missed the little guy. Ashley had her head against the window, which made me wonder why anyone would sleep in a window seat.

I have the question why writer is using "which made me wonder why anyone would sleep in a window seat" with "would" inside. I can't guess which thought writer wanted to express - why not " which made me wonder why anyone was sleeping in a window seat."

For example I was reading another book and there was

"Cake," Jonga said, but when Kate put out her hand, he would not shake it. He just nodded to her.

For me "he would not shake it" means "he made decision not to shake it".

Can you explain it for me?

3 Answers 3

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The narrator thinks that anyone fortunate enough to have the window seat (are they in a plane or a train?) would want to look out, and finds it strange that Ashley is choosing to sleep. In this context would sleep means was willing to sleep. So in your other quotation, Jonga was not willing to shake hands with Kate.

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  • yes they are in a plane
    – ZWA
    Apr 30 at 11:52
  • +1 The definition of "would": "be willing to" is key
    – gotube
    May 2 at 2:31
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"why anyone would sleep in a window seat" implies no one would sleep in a window seat, and that they have a reason for doing so.

Saying "which made me wonder why anyone was sleeping in a window seat" has the same meaning as the above, so both should be fine.

For the second interpretation, you are correct - "he made decision not to shake it"

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Your second example is the answer to your first -- the reason to use "would sleep" and not "was sleeping" in that sentence is to put more emphasis on making the decision to sleep there, not the act of sleeping there. The two are almost the same but with "was sleeping", the comment is angled more towards someone already being asleep than going to sleep.

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