Daily Archives: March 3, 2011

Unpacking the Grey Owl

A colleague – Adrienne Montgomerie – was recently reading to her child from a story by Grey Owl when she came across this rather large sentence (From the second-last paragraph of “How the Queen and I spent the Winter” as published in the collection Great Canadian Animal Stories,
Whitaker, 1978):

This creature comported itself as a person, of a kind, and she busied herself at tasks that I could, without loss of dignity, have occupied myself at; she made camp, procured and carried in supplies, could lay plans and carry them out and stood robustly and resolutely on her own hind legs, metaphorically and actually, and had an independence of spirit that measured up well with my own, seeming to look on me as a contemporary, accepting me as an equal and no more.

We certainly don’t write like that so much anymore. I must say that I enjoyed reading that sentence, but some people may wonder whether all those commas are necessary and whether the whole thing is even grammatical.

So let’s have some fun and take it apart. Continue reading