something added to embellish or make perfect
"Hush. Don’t worry none,” she whispered, and the honey in her words
complemented the sundown spilling on the lake.
The honey in Polly's words for the pink and yellow girl complemented the beauty of the sunset but they contrasted with the abusive language and actions Mrs. Breedlove directed towards her own daughter.
the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
The songs caressed her, and while she tried to hold her mind on the wages of sin, her body trembled for
redemption, salvation, a mysterious rebirth that would simply happen, with no effort on her part.
derive or receive pleasure from
He seemed to
relish her company and even to enjoy her country ways and lack of knowledge about city things.
the state of being weak in health or body
Instead of ignoring her
infirmity, pretending it was not there, he made it seem like something special and endearing.
She was still no more than a girl, and still waiting for that plateau of happiness, that hand of a precious Lord who, when her way grew drear, would always
be fatally overwhelmed
There in the dark her memory was refreshed, and she
succumbed to her earlier dreams. Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another—physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought.
place restrictions on
It would be for her a well-spring from which she would draw the most destructive emotions, deceiving the lover and seeking to imprison the beloved,
curtailing freedom in every way.
hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
So she became, and her process of becoming was like most of ours: she developed a hatred for things that mystified or
obstructed her; acquired virtues that were easy to maintain; assigned herself a role in the scheme of things; and harked back to simpler times for gratification.
exquisitely fine and subtle and pleasing
More and more she neglected her house, her children, her man—they were like the afterthoughts one has just before sleep, the early-morning and late-evening edges of her day, the dark edges that made the daily life with the Fishers lighter, more
delicate, more lovely.
take delight in
It was her pleasure to stand in her kitchen at the end of a day and survey her handiwork. Knowing there were soap bars by the dozen, bacon by the rasher, and
reveling in her shiny pots and pans and polished floors.
A person who revels is usually engaged in "uproarious festivities" or "unrestrained merrymaking" but in deliberate contrast to her always-drinking husband, Mrs. Breedlove takes delight in looking at the work she'd put into polishing her employer's pots, pans, and floor.
guided by or in accordance with a sense of right and wrong
She was an active church woman, did not drink, smoke, or carouse, defended herself mightily against Cholly, rose above him in every way, and felt she was fulfilling a mother’s role conscientiously, when she pointed out their father’s faults to keep them from having them, or punished them when they showed any slovenliness, no matter how slight, when she worked twelve to sixteen hours a day to support them.
Another definition of "conscientious" is "characterized by extreme care and great effort"--this might describe how Mrs. Breedlove treats the Fisher daughter but it does not fit how she treats her own children (see example sentence for "delicate"). The conscientiousness that Mrs. Breedlove applies to her family is connected to her belief in God and her need to feel like she's a morally superior martyr.
a feeling of excessive concern
solicitude of the women, the head pats of the men, pleased Cholly, and the creamy conversations fascinated him.
foster the growth of
Sullen, irritable, he
cultivated his hatred of Darlene.
the quality of lacking strength or power
He was, in time, to discover that hatred of white men—but not now. Not in
impotence but later, when the hatred could find sweet expression. For now, he hated the one who had created the situation, the one who bore witness to his failure, his
"Impotence" often refers to a man's inability to perform sexually, which is what happened to Cholly when he was interrupted in the act. White men with long guns stood over Cholly, making him feel powerless and weak as they urged him to "get on wid it" with Darlene while they watched.
characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
While thus fascinated by the pitiable clean space hedged around by neglected tufts of wool, the man turned a hard,
belligerent face to him.
Nothing, nothing, interested him now. Not himself, not other people. Only in drink was there some break, some floodlight, and when that closed, there was
cause to become
But the aspect of married life that dumbfounded him and
rendered him totally dysfunctional was the appearance of children.
an increase by natural growth or addition
Had he been interested in the
accumulation of things, he could have thought of them as his material heirs; had he needed to prove himself to some nameless “others,” he could have wanted them to excel in his own image and for his own sake.
The sequence of his emotions was
revulsion, guilt, pity, then love.
What could his
calloused hands produce to make her smile?
A callus is "a skin area that is thick or hard from continual pressure"--this describes the hands of a man who has worked in steel mills. "Callous" can also mean "emotionally hardened"--this would describe the heart of a man who has been abandoned and rejected by his parents, who has killed and been shot at, and who was about to rape his eleven-year-old daughter.
stupefied by alcoholic drink
What could his heavy arms and
befuddled brain accomplish that would earn him his own respect, that would in turn allow him to accept her love?
a feeling of intense dislike
Then, too, he had read several books and made the acquaintance of several great misanthropes of the ages, whose spiritual company soothed him and provided him with yardsticks for measuring his whims, his yearnings, and his
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
As in the case of many misanthropes, his
disdain for people led him into a profession designed to serve them.
delight greatly in
To contemplate, for example, evidence of human footsteps on the mat—absorb the smell of the quilt and
wallow in the sweet certainty that many bodies had sweated, slept, dreamed, made love, been ill, and even died under it.
All in all, his personality was an arabesque: intricate, symmetrical, balanced, and tightly constructed—except for one flaw. The careful design was
marred occasionally by rare but keen sexual cravings.
characterized by hard work and perseverance
industrious, orderly, and energetic, hoping to prove beyond a doubt De Gobineau’s hypothesis that “all civilizations derive from the white race, that none can exist without its help, and that a society is great and brilliant only so far as it preserves the blood of the noble group that created it.”
driven by lust
That they were corrupt in public and private practice, both lecherous and
lascivious, was considered their noble right, and thoroughly enjoyed by most of the less gifted population.
strange and unconventional behavior
No obviously bad effects were noticed from these ill-advised unions, but one or two old maids or gardener boys marked a weakening of faculties and a disposition toward
eccentricity in some of the children.
a strong liking
He read greedily but understood selectively, choosing the bits and pieces of other men’s ideas that supported whatever
predilection he had at the moment.
incapable of being overcome or subdued
He resisted the introduction, but she married him anyway, only to discover that he was suffering from and enjoying an
a constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed
When she learned two months into the marriage how important his
melancholy was to him, that he was very interested in altering her joy to a more academic gloom, that he equated lovemaking with communion and the Holy Grail, she simply left.
keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
Of all the wishes people had brought him—money, love, revenge—this seemed to him the most
poignant and the one most deserving of fulfillment.
a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
How is it I could lift my eyes from the
contemplation of Your Body and fall deeply into the
contemplation of theirs?