Hello,

I'm reading "Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and I came across this sentence which uses past perfect verb tense. I can't figure out why. Can someone please explain? Note that this is the first sentence in the paragraph and the scene.

An hour later, and Lilith had had to go to work.
If anyone has the book, this is in the chapter called "June: Interludes". Not sure if context is required here, but for those of you who don't have the book, here's the previous paragraph (from the previous scene), along with the paragraph which begins with this sentence. (Lilith was there, but did not actively participate in the conversation from the previous scene.)

"Yeah, and [Sharps] was stranger than any of [the astronomers who were interviewed]! You'll see it on TV. Hey, did you know that Hot Fudge Sundae falls on a Tuesdae this month?" [Mark] gave it a good dramatic pause - during which Joanna got the giggles - before he went on.

[scene ends]

An hour later, and Lilith had had to go to work. The saki was dwindling fast. Mark was feeling good. Joanna was feather-light in his lap, while he and Frank talked around her.
It's saying that Lilith had to go to work, and she did.

The past perfect there is used to show that the information about Lilith's having gone to work is a parenthetical explanation that is off the main line of the narrative of interest. It happened earlier than the main line of the narrative and explains her absence in the situations described later in the text.

If she simply "had to go to work", she might still be there, thinking about having to go to work. But the way it's written, she has already left for work by the end of that sentence.

CJ
Thank you for the explanation, CalifJim.

Would it be the same thing if it said "An hour later Lilith had gone to work?"

Also, in light of your explanation, would it be possible to say "An hour later, and Lilith had had to go to work, but decided to stay at home," or does the usage of past perfect here mean that she definitely did go?

By the way, why is the "and" here (in the original sentence)?

Nikola
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Can somebody explain me again? I did not understand.

What does it mean "narrative of interest"?
Nikola NovakWould it be the same thing if it said "An hour later Lilith had gone to work?"
Well, not exactly the same thing, of course. The difference is shown graphically below.

Nikola Novakwould it be possible to say "An hour later, and Lilith had had to go to work, but decided to stay at home,"
This is also possible.

Nikola Novakor does the usage of past perfect here mean that she definitely did go?
The context strongly suggests that she definitely did go without saying so precisely.

Nikola Novakwhy is the "and" here
I take it thus:

(It was at this time) an hour later (than where we left off this story), and by this time Lilith had had to go to work and had already gone.

< one hour >

..............................V...............V.........

The story proceeds

this far ] [ The story is taken up again,

[Lilith leaves] after Lilith had already left.

at some time

during this

hour

Without 'and' we would have something like An hour later Lilith had left, which would put the event of leaving at the end of the hour shown above. With 'and' we have the time line shown above, which is slightly different.

CJ
Picnicnarrative of interest
The main story being told.

CJ
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Ah, I see it now. Thank you very much for the clarification, CJ.

Cheers,

Nikola