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私の生みの母は、若い未婚の日本人だったため、私を養子に出そうと決心したのです。彼女こだわったの、私の養子先は日本に住んでいる家族でなければ、ということでした。

The highlighted "は" looks to be there for thematic reasons?

The highlighted "ga" looks to be there for neutral description?

3 Answers 3

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The only reason が is used here is because 彼女 is the subject of a relative clause. Relative clauses don't have topics, so が is used instead of は.

In a main clause, the が in 彼女が would likely be exhaustive rather than neutral (because it would be weird to have a neutral が attached to something already in the "universe of discourse"), but here in a relative clause that's not necessarily true.

The は, on the other hand, is a plain thematic は. It's a very common construction to have the topic は follow a nominalization:

禁煙したのはいいことだ。
It is good that you have quit smoking.

In other words, は is used here simply because there's no reason to use が.

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The GA you have highlighted makes the second sentence begin as: The THING that she was fixating on // obsessing about was...

Actually the key to unlocking this is the NOHA (NO WA) because こだわったの is a noun-ification of こだわった.

こだわったの refers to a noun now. It is ...whatever she was obsessing over.

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I Think You're Right

彼女こだわったの、私の養子先は日本に住んでいる家族でなければ、ということでした。

  • is marking the new topic that is developed in the following clause, so "thematic reasons" sounds good to me.
  • is used because the fact that it was 彼女 is secondary and supportive to the new topic, so "neutral description" or "theme-subordinate description" makes sense.

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