Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself.

shootingstar

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(The STAGE MANAGER appears at the right, one hand on a dark curtain which he slowly draws across the stage. In a distance a clock is heard striking the hour very faintly.)
STAGE MANAGER: Most everybody's asleep in Grover's Corners. ........
- Yes, it's clearing up. There are the stars - doing their old, old criss-cross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven't settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings up there. They're just chalk ... or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. The strain's so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
(He winds his watch)
Hm. ... Eleven o'clock in Grover's Corners. - You get a good rest, too.
Good night.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------The End-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Thornton Wilder, Our Town Act III)

What does straining away mean here? It can't have the meaning of the phrasal verb strain away. In my opinion away has to be an adverb here, not a particle actually.
 

Barque

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"Straining away" here means "making an effort" or "working hard". The "away" adds emphasis. I guess he's referring to the sun.

Yes, I'd say "away" is an adverb there.
 
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Barque

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Are you sure? He talks about the stars and then says "this one" and then talks about a rest every sixteen hours. It's the sun that takes a rest for a little over eight hours of a 24 hour day, in the tropics at least.
 

bhaisahab

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No, he is referring to the Earth actually 🌏:)
Yes, he is referring to the earth, but he seems to be saying that the earth is a star, which it obviously isn't. Anyway, I agree that "away" is an adverb.
 

shootingstar

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...., but he seems to be saying that the earth is a star, which it obviously isn't
When he is implicitly saying the Earth was a star, it's meant figuratively.
 

Barque

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I'm not convinced. :) I still think it's the sun.
 

emsr2d2

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He's referring to the earth - it's the only planet on which there are living beings who lie down to sleep approximately every sixteen hours.
 
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