+0

This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past, of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before. (The situation is that Harry, the main character of this novel, has a scar on his forehead that makes him a special wizard because it is to do with Harry's very mysterious past and because of the past event, he lost his parents and got the scar, so he lives with the Dursley family.)


I've already asked about it several times, but I don't seem to have gotten any clear answers till now. I wonder whether the comma is correctly used there. Some American native speakers told me the sentence doesn't make much sense with the comma and it should be dropped and "and" is needed between there between "past" and "of", but other native English speakers answered me differently that it's okay and no need for "and". Whose answer is really correct?

If the comma is correct, is the below sentence correct as well?

This is a story of the tribe, of the way they live in the jungle.

+2
fire1This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past, of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before.

In my opinion this sentence is acceptable.

Comments  

You must exercise caution when reading fiction. Fiction writers can and do often break the rules.

Here's an example from a Chicago Manual of Style Q&A post about commas:

Q. Is it ever appropriate to elide a conjunction between two parts of a compound predicate and use a comma (for example, “He walked to the door, opened it.”)? I notice that many of the fiction authors I edit do this frequently.

A. In fiction weird constructions are sometimes appropriate; they should generally be tolerated until they become annoying.

In specific reference to your question, the "of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys doorstep eleven years before" might be an appositive that has been set off with a comma. My intuitive answer is that the comma is okay. I am positive of my answer? No.

In short, be careful about getting too detailed or specific when looking at fictional writing. Fiction authors can and do take some liberties.