From her [Joad’s mother] position as healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.
(John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)
Is there an omitted relativizer (that or which) after the family? Even if there’s an omission, do you have any difficulty grasping the meaning at once, without hesitation or second thought?
As is clear from the fact that it is followed by a marked infinitive (to function rather than bare function), will in this clause is not a verb but a noun:
1 [countable, uncountable] the ability to control your thoughts and actions in order to achieve what you want to do; a feeling of strong determination to do something that you want to do
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
The family will to function is the family’s determination to continue living as a family.
If anything is missing here it is a conjunction and:
if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired
the family would fall AND
the family will to function would be gone.
By omitting the conjunction Steinbeck makes clear that these are not two consequences but one: the second clause stands in apposition to the first as an expansion or explanation of it.
Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus