water dripping from tap

“Water dripped from tap on wall into basin and into water there.”
—Henry Green, Living

What kind of sentence is this?!

Henry Green’s writing always surprises me. He is certainly not afraid to take risks. This is a sentence that seems to require at least four the’s, but has none. The question is, why?

The omission of the the’s makes this sentence quite spare. It makes the dripping of the water seem simple and elemental. In light of the thrust of the storyline of the novel Living, this spareness makes sense.

One thing Green is known for is his true-to-life comparisons between the lower and upper classes. In Living, male factory workers and females of the lower class are contrasted with male factory owners and females of the upper class.

To place a spare sentence like this at the opening of a section about the people of the lower class emphasizes the spareness of their lives, without Green having to come outright and say it.

And so a sentence that reads bizarrely to my ears actually has a deep meaning.