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Two young women would die while I was out there. - Bill Bryson Options
yummyspringroll
Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 5:44:42 AM

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Joined: 9/25/2016
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Here's an excerpt from the first chapter of a book by Bill Bryson titled A Walk In The Woods. The author tells how one day he got the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail and then followed through with it. The first chapter is about him considering the risks of the journey.

Quote:
Finally, this being America, there is the constant possibility of murder. At least nine hikers — the actual number depends on which source you consult and how you define a hiker — have been murdered along the trail since 1974. Two young women would die while I was out there.


Two young women would die while I was out there.
What does this sentence mean?
a. Is this only a "what-if" thought that crossed the author's mind while he was considering the risk?
b. Or is this something that actually happened and the author learned about it after he had finished the journey and so he included this fact in his book?
c. If the answer is b., could someone please explain the grammar here? Why did he use "would die" instead of "died"?

Thank you!
thar
Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 6:44:31 AM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
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It is not just about what happened - they died
it is about the pattern being common, almost expected.
Nine hikers died in the given period.
Two more would die in the period I was there - that is just a continuation of the same pattern. It shows the level of danger, and that it was not just historical, it was still a present danger.


Looking forward, as if you can predict what is going to happen:

two young women will die while I am here


But this is the past. It did happen.
two young women would die while I was there

It proves that is was dangerous at the time he was there, that those nine deaths were not just something that happened in the past.







yummyspringroll
Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 11:09:33 PM

Rank: Member

Joined: 9/25/2016
Posts: 60
Neurons: 29,852
thar wrote:
It is not just about what happened - they died
it is about the pattern being common, almost expected.
Nine hikers died in the given period.
Two more would die in the period I was there - that is just a continuation of the same pattern. It shows the level of danger, and that it was not just historical, it was still a present danger.


Looking forward, as if you can predict what is going to happen:

two young women will die while I am here


But this is the past. It did happen.
two young women would die while I was there

It proves that is was dangerous at the time he was there, that those nine deaths were not just something that happened in the past.




Thank you very much, thar!

Suppose this fact was written not in the first chapter (where he hadn't begun the hike) but in the last chapter where the author was finally home and his family filled him in on everything that happened while he was away, and that's when he learned about the two women. Will the sentence be the same?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 11:36:49 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I guess thar's in bed.

What I would say in the last chapter of the book is "Two young women died while I was out there."

He may have a different version.
yummyspringroll
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 4:50:19 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 9/25/2016
Posts: 60
Neurons: 29,852
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
I guess thar's in bed.

What I would say in the last chapter of the book is "Two young women died while I was out there."

He may have a different version.


Thank you, Drag0nspeaker! I think I get it now :D
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