I'll appreciate, if anyone could explain me the usage of past perfect in the following sentence, since the past perfect, I assume, is unusually referring to 'later past'.

"The frustrated interrogator was not going to give up easily. “Are you both still working in the company?” Barbara, appearing not the least disturbed by the woman’s incontinent insistence, scooped the last cherry out of her dish, smiled, looked directly at her, and said in the identical tone of voice, “We’ve separated, but the company is unaffected.” That shut her up. Barbara had shown her big winner’s badge by using “The Broken Record” technique, the most effective way to curtail an unwelcome cross-examination."


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    There are two events, one later than another. The later one was the last event in the narrative: That shut her up, i.e, she stopped talking. The prior one, with past perfect, is Barbara had show her ... badge, which describes the previous events and their outcome. As it happens in this paragraph, the last sentence describes prior events, not the latest one. Order of mention is not always order of occurrence. – John Lawler Apr 18 '19 at 16:44
  • In fact, one of the times when English speakers are very likely to use the past perfect is when the order of mention is not the order of occurrence. Here, the had shown happens before that shut her up, but after many of the previous verbs. – Peter Shor Apr 20 '19 at 15:15
  • John Lawler, thank you for your explanation. – deepcosmos Apr 20 '19 at 21:01
  • Peter Shor, appreciate your reply.. – deepcosmos Apr 20 '19 at 21:03
  • It may be moderately helpful to understand that "perfect", in this context, refers to something being "perfected" in the sense of being complete and done with. This is a rather arcane meaning that is not commonly used outside of arcane English rule books. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '19 at 0:14

Think of it in terms of cause and effect. Here the past perfect is expressing the causal relation (by making explicit their relation to each other in time). The cause ususally comes before the effect in time.

More simply, the interrogator quit talking because Barbara showed her 'big winner's badge' (whatever that is). The cause (showing badge/using technique) precedes the effect (going quiet) and thus comes before it in time. The past perfect here is stressing the causality, by putting the first event directly in front of the second, consequential one.

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  • Analphabeta, much thanks for your explanation. – deepcosmos Apr 20 '19 at 22:49

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