(Jo's sister said yes to a marriage proposal.) Hearing those words, Jo fainted. She hoped she would never wake up from the awful nightmare that was about to unfold.

-- from a graded reader

I think I am able to deduce the meaning: Jo's sister received a marriage proposal and accepted it. Upon hearing this news, Jo was overwhelmed with emotional distress and fainted. She felt as if this event was a terrible nightmare that she didn't want to face, wishing she would never regain consciousness to experience the consequences of her sister's decision.

But if Jo didn't want to wake up from the awful nightmare, that means she wanted to stay in the nightmare, which is a very strange idea to me.

In my culture, nobody would want to stay in a nightmare, so we are more likely to say:

She hoped she would quickly wake up from the awful nightmare that was about to unfold.


She hoped she would never wake up to face the awful reality that was about to unfold.

Which is the most probable version that a native English speaker would use?

  • This is terrible writing. Not only because of the logical problems that you pointed out, but when someone faints, they don't hope for anything because they're unconscious. Shameful for a graded reader.
    – gotube
    Jul 10 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


As a native UK English speaker I share your puzzlement. I wonder whether this is simply an example of bad writing!

If she has fainted, she is unconscious, she surely can't be hoping anything.

Why would someone not want to wake from a nightmare?

The sense that Jo is seeing a bad situation unfolding as if in a nightmare is a likely interpretation, but I find the details of the expression very confusing.

  • It certainly is bad writing!
    – James K
    Jul 9 at 6:54
  • Presumably the author meant She wished she could wake up from the nightmare! Jul 9 at 8:18
  • I agree with this response. The only other interpretation I can imagine is that Jo and her sister loved the same man. Jo, upset by the future marriage, lose consciousness and didn't want to live again without shared love.
    – Graffito
    Jul 9 at 13:36

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