I started to read a novel written by Jorge Orwell - "1984". There is a clause in a sentence "Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape a vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansion, ...". I can understand the meaning of the clause. Did Smith's chin take the action of nuzzling into his breast, or is it a passive voice with omitted verb? Correct me, if I am wrong

1 Answer 1


It is a participle, but a past (or passive) participle used to describe what is being done with his chin.

Let's look at an example with a verb that has a distinct past tense and past participle.

The apple, its flesh eaten by maggots, was on the table.

Here the participle describes the apple's flesh. The part between the commas is parenthetical, and has an adverbial effect, describing the context of the apple on the table.

The verb "eaten" is a passive participle, so it has the same effect as the passive voice, in that the implied subject (his chin) is the natural object of an active verb "nuzzle"

So in your longer, more complex sentence we know that Smith is "nuzzling" his chin into his breast, that is he is lowering his head and raising his shoulders in a vain attempt to keep warm.

  • Thank you for you reply, James! I have read a couple articles based on your answer. If I get it right, that parenthetical part is used to add insignificant information to the main sentence, and now I wonder if we could add any information that is related to Smith in some way, until the main sentence grammatically correct? For example, about his boots, coat, the iron he forgot to turn of?
    – Stone Paul
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 0:49
  • It's not exactly "insignificant information". See this literary analysis, which points out that right from the very first sentence, all the way to the end of the book, Winston Smith is constantly but unsuccessfully struggling to find shelter from a hostile world. Essentially, that "parenthetical" clause foreshadows and underpins the entire book! Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 13:12
  • @FumbleFingers, thank you for that discovery!
    – Stone Paul
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:21

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