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Context

Kamekichi, a young boy with super powers, is being tortured/experimented on by a scientist who is trying to get Kamekichi to use his powers by electrocuting him.

Unsatisfied and feeling that Kamekichi isn't using his power to it's fullest, and with a higher ranking scientist coming in to observe the experiment, the scientist decides to hook up Kamekichi's dog to the same kind of electrocution device as a means of "encouragement".

The scientist's superior sees the dog and inquires about it, to which the scientist responds:

あれは カメキチをさらう時 しがみついて はなれないもんで いっしょに つれてきたイヌです

今までは ショックで自殺でも されてはと 生かしておいたの ですが・・・

ぎゃくに あのイヌへの愛情が カメキチの パワーのネックに なってたのかもしれません・・・

だから今日は・・・

So far to my understanding this comes out to something like

あれは カメキチをさらう時 しがみついて はなれないもんで いっしょに つれてきたイヌです

That is the dog we brought along with Kamekichi when we abducted him, because it was clinging to him and wouldn't go away.

ぎゃくに あのイヌへの愛情が カメキチの パワーのネックに なってたのかもしれません・・・

On the other hand, Kamekichi's affection for that dog may have become a hindrance to his powers...

だから今日は・・・

So today...

Where I am having issues is

今までは ショックで自殺でも されてはと 生かしておいたの ですが・・・

I believe I understand the individual clauses of this sentence to be:

ショックで自殺でも されてはと

even if he killed himself from shock

生かしておいたの ですが・・・

we let it live but...

I am assuming that the ては here is either "if" or for emphasis, and that と is used as a conditional "if". But what do these mean together? Are they just a stronger, more emphasized "if"? And how do these two clauses relate to each other?

Which leads to my second question, who is this sentence referring to? It seems like the first clause [ショックで自殺でも されてはと] is talking about Kamekichi, while the second clause [生かしておいたの ですが・・・] is about his dog.

I feel like I'm missing or misunderstanding something here.

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1 Answer 1

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You should read it this way.

今までは(カメキチに)ショックで自殺でもされては(困る)と(思って)(犬を)生かしておいたのですが・・・

The と in question is not conditional but quotative and some verb, most certainly 思う in this case, is omitted after it.

Note that されて is passive. This implies that Kamekichi killing himself would cause some negative emotion in the speaker. Between は and と (i.e. at the end of the quoted part), some word or phrase that expresses that emotion is omitted, such as 困る, まずい, etc.

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  • Perhaps this would be clearer with 思って and 犬を bracketed separately? I don't want to assume, but if I understood you correctly, the idea is that the former is the omitted verb for the entire と quote (in te-form because that whole clause then connects to the rest), whereas 犬を is just the を-marked part for 生かしておいた. Apr 22 at 23:42

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