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保護者として何の役にも立てなかった自責の念が、自らを貶める事に救いを見出してほのかの心身を堕としていく

Her remorse of being completely unable fulfill her role as a guardian... she decides to torment herself, she finds salvation, honoka loses her mind.

i believe i have to look at this as

自責の念が自らを貶める事に(すて)救いを見出してほのかの心身を堕としていく

However can 自責の念 do any of these actions?

"自責の念"が 自らを貶める事にする?

"自責の念"が 救いを見出して?

"自責の念"が ほのかの心身を堕としていく? edit: this actually does seems possible, but can 自責の念 skip over the first two actions?

intuitively 自責の念 can't "do" any of these actions, honoka herself can do these things though.

In the end what is 自責の念が actually doing? I feel like the conjunction use of が doesn't fit in here either.

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You've got a fun sentence there! Some guess work because there is no context, so I can't tell you 100%, but....

(Note: If you comment with some context and it leads me to a different answer I will edit as needed)

The Short:

が fits just fine. It is basically saying that her remorse is crushing her.

The Long:

Assuming you understand the first half of the sentence, which describes "自責の念", let's just focus on the second half. First off, I like simplifying sentences into the necessary pieces and putting them back together after I figure out the base meaning, which you seemed to be doing as well. You were right, the base volition of the sentence is contained in:

自責の念が、ほのかの心身を堕としていく

As an aside: the subject can skip over as many things as it likes. If you are having trouble, always look for the definitive subject of the entire sentence and the last verb, then build from there.

Anyway, this blockquote roughly translates to my summary above. Also, remember that 心身 means mind and body, that is important for getting the right image. So in the middle of that it says:

自らを貶める事に救いを見出して

Let's translate this out of context of the sentence:

To find salvation in self-deprecation.

That bolded part is a prettly literal translation of "自らを貶める". So then all we need to ask is, "Who or what is self-deprecating?"

I think the answer is pretty clear by now, but just in case: the subject doing this action is Honoka, and the sentence is indirectly referencing that which is why it is hard to understand. This is also where the guess work comes in to play: I'm guessing that Honoka found solace in being a guardian. Again, I can't know for sure since I don't know the context, but this is my guess. If that is the case, here is my translation: Knowing that Honoka is abusing herself to escape the remorse, we can translate as below:

The remorse of being unable to do her duty as a guardian drove Honoka to find salvation in self-deprecation, and scarred her mind and body.

Edit for spelling errors.

Edit 2: I mistranslated a part, edited for correction. See comments for detail.

  • ah woops for some reason i was thinking 救い was a verb so that screwed me up. Context is an abuser using her past failure to manipulate her. So based on "自らを貶める事に救いを見出して", it would be something like "Her remorse of being completely unable fulfill her role as a guardian, to find salvation from her self persecution, causes her to lose her mind". – charu Oct 22 '18 at 18:50
  • I think the sentence is saying "the remorse found a salvation in self-deprecation", not "Honoka found the remorse (itself) as a salvation." – naruto Oct 22 '18 at 19:10
  • @naruto I'm not sure I understand how that would work. How would remorse find salvation? Also, I am not suggesting that she found the remorse as a salvation, I'm saying that she found the guardianship as a salvation, but that her inability to be a good guardian torments her. Does that make more sense? – heretomurimudamura Oct 22 '18 at 19:13
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    救いを見出す and 心身を堕とす are joined with the te-form, and in this case it means 心身を堕とす happened by way of 救いを見出す. To rephrase this sentence with ほのか as the subject, it would be "Honoka felt remorse so strongly that she could not help deprecating herself as a salvage (i.e., to console herself), and it in turn resulted in corrupting herself." – naruto Oct 22 '18 at 19:31
  • That does not look to me the same as what you were suggesting in your previous comment, but it DOES sound like a better translation than mine. Actually, re-reading the sentence, I realized that I completely mistranslated "貶める事に救いを見出す" as "貶める事からの救いを見出す". I am going to edit accordingly. – heretomurimudamura Oct 22 '18 at 19:39

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