"Beloved," Vocabulary from Part 2 35 words

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison's "Beloved" is a haunted novel -- the characters it portrays and the land it depicts are heavily burdened by a past that refuses to heal or let them go.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
  1. wrestle
    engage in deep thought, consideration, or debate
    Having wrestled with the question of whether or not to tell a man about his woman, and having convinced himself that he should, he then began to worry about Sethe.
  2. vexed
    troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances
    Was she vexed by the loss, the free and unasked-for revival of gossip by the man who had helped her cross the river and who was her friend as well as Baby Suggs’?
  3. forewarning
    an early warning about a future event
    Maybe he should have left it alone; maybe Sethe would have gotten around to telling him herself; maybe he was not the high-minded Soldier of Christ he thought he was, but an ordinary, plain meddler who had interrupted something going along just fine for the sake of truth and forewarning, things he set much store by.
  4. scorch
    burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color
    Deeper and more painful than his belated concern for Denver or Sethe, scorching his soul like a silver dollar in a fool’s pocket, was the memory of Baby Suggs—the mountain to his sky.
  5. honor
    the quality of being honorable and having a good name
    It was the memory of her and the honor that was her due that made him walk straight-necked into the yard of 124, although he heard its voices from the road.
  6. bereaved
    sorrowful through loss or deprivation
    But she hadn’t waited and he attended her funeral more put out with her than bereaved.
  7. forbid
    command against
    That insult spawned another by the mourners: back in the yard of 124, they ate the food they brought and did not touch Sethe’s, who did not touch theirs and forbade Denver to.
  8. devote
    give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause
    So Baby Suggs, holy, having devoted her freed life to harmony, was buried amid a regular dance of pride, fear, condemnation and spite.
  9. dispense
    grant a dispensation; grant an exemption
    Dispensing with that formality was all the pay he expected from Negroes in his debt.
  10. forfeit
    lose (s.th.) or lose the right to (s.th.) by some error, offense, or crime
    Rather than forfeit the one privilege he claimed for himself, he lowered his hand and left the porch.
  11. abandon
    give up with the intent of never claiming again
    Six times in as many days he abandoned his normal route and tried to knock at 124.
  12. surrender
    give up or agree to forgo to the power or possession of another
    Digging in the heap she despised herself for having been so trusting, so quick to surrender at the stove while Paul D kissed her back.
  13. exhilaration
    the feeling of lively and cheerful joy
    No more discussions, stormy or quiet, about the true meaning of the Fugitive Bill, the Settlement Fee, God’s Ways and Negro pews; antislavery, manumission, skin voting, Republicans, Dred Scott, book learning, Sojourner’s high-wheeled buggy, the Colored Ladies of Delaware, Ohio, and the other weighty issues that held them in chairs, scraping the floorboards or pacing them in agony or exhilaration.
  14. exhume
    dig up for reburial or for medical investigation; of dead bodies
    No smashing with an ax head before it is decently exhumed from the grave that has hidden it all this time.
  15. tremor
    an involuntary vibration (as if from illness or fear)
    There was no tremor in her voice as she instructed them to keep the fire—if not, come on upstairs.
  16. ascend
    travel up, "We ascended the mountain"
    With that, she gathered her blanket around her elbows and ascended the lily-white stairs like a bride.
  17. ignorant
    uneducated in general; lacking knowledge or sophistication
    Her authority in the pulpit, her dance in the Clearing, her powerful Call (she didn’t deliver sermons or preach—insisting she was too ignorant for that—she called and the hearing heard)—all that had been mocked and rebuked by the bloodspill in her backyard.
  18. contentious
    involving or likely to cause controversy
    Now, eight years after her contentious funeral and eighteen years after the Misery, he changed his mind.
  19. fatigue
    temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work
    The onslaught of her fatigue, like his, was sudden, but lasted for years.
  20. exhort
    spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
    “That’s one other thing took away from me,” she said, and that was when he exhorted her, pleaded with her not to quit, no matter what.
  21. regret
    feel remorse for; feel sorry for; be contrite about
    Trying to get to 124 for the second time now, he regretted that conversation: the high tone he took; his refusal to see the effect of marrow weariness in a woman he believed was a mountain.
  22. upbraid
    express criticism towards
    Mistaking her, upbraiding her, owing her, now he needed to let her know he knew, and to get right with her and her kin.
  23. timeless
    unaffected by time
    And since that was so—if her daughter could come back home from the timeless place—certainly her sons could, and would, come back from wherever they had gone to.
  24. rambunctious
    noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline
    He thought it would make him rambunctious, renegade—a drunkard even, the debtlessness, and in a way it did.
  25. alter
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
    He wasn’t ready to confront the man whose life he had altered with his graveyard information.
  26. commence
    set in motion, cause to start
    I commenced to walk backward, didn’t even look behind me to find out where I was headed.
  27. spry
    moving quickly and lightly
    First she’d be up and spry in the morning and by the second milking she couldn’t stand up.
  28. rouse
    cause to be agitated, excited, or roused
    All she had left was her heart and they busted it so even the War couldn’t rouse her.
  29. awe
    an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration
    He watched them with awe and envy, and each time he discovered large families of black people he made them identify over and over who each was, what relation, who, in fact, belonged to who.
  30. trespass
    entry to another's property without right or permission
    Maybe schoolteacher shot after him, shot at his feet, to remind him of the trespass.
  31. suitable
    meant or adapted for an occasion or use
    Schoolteacher has changed his mind: “This one will never be suitable.”
  32. yearning
    prolonged unfulfilled desire or need
    He thinks he hears sobbing that seems to come from Mrs. Garner’s window, but it could be anything, anyone, even a she-cat making her yearning known.
  33. speculate
    reflect deeply on a subject
    Tired of holding his head up, he lets his chin rest on the collar and speculates on how he can hobble over to the grate, boil a little water and throw in a handful of meal.
  34. reproduce
    make a copy or equivalent of
    He wasn’t surprised to learn that they had tracked her down in Cincinnati, because, when he thought about it now, her price was greater than his; property that reproduced itself without cost.
  35. rectify
    make right or correct
    “If I did you harm, I’m here to rectify it.”