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In a third-person narrative, I want to punctuate the following sentence:

Wasn't art supposed to impact the reader in an emotional way, she wondered.

How would that line be punctuated? I know I could use italics, but my question is, should it be,

Wasn't art supposed to impact its audience in an emotional way? she wondered.

or what? nothing seems entirely right to me. I know I could just change the whole thing—"She wondered whether or not art was ... yada yada ..."; but she is thinking this in response to someone and it's almost a rhetorical question, so I'd like it to remain the way I have it, but be punctuated properly—if that's possible. Grr.

  • I'm sure that this question has been answered before on this site. You have two basic options (both correct and differing only in the decision of whether or not to include quotation marks): (1) "Wasn't art supposed to impact the reader in an emotional way?" she wondered. (2) Wasn't art supposed to impact the reader in an emotional way? she wondered. – Sven Yargs Nov 14 '13 at 19:54
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    The previous question is in the sidebar. Punctuating a Sentence Containing a Question. Any of your ways is fine: comma, question mark with or without italics, as a direct question. – Andrew Leach Nov 14 '13 at 19:59
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I recognise your dilemma. I have frequently pondered the same thing and usually ended by reworking the sentence. But if I have to go with those same words in the same order I think my answer is:

'Wasn't art supposed to impact its audience in an emotional way', she wondered?

  • No. *'Wasn't art supposed to impact its audience in an emotional way', she asked? // *'Wasn't art supposed to impact its audience in an emotional way', she asked herself? // *'Wasn't art supposed to impact its audience in an emotional way', she wondered? See Andrew's acceptable alternatives. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 15 '13 at 0:02

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