hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
Together they waged a
perfunctory battle against the outrageous behavior of that place; against turned-over slop jars, smacks on the behind, and gusts of sour air.
move in a wavy pattern or with a rising and falling motion
Paul D tied his shoes together, hung them over his shoulder and followed her through the door straight into a pool of red and
undulating light that locked him where he stood.
a mattress filled with straw or a pad made of quilts
It took her a year to choose—a long, tough year of thrashing on
pallets eaten up with dreams of her.
having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
He rubbed his cheek on her back and learned that way her sorrow, the roots of it; its wide trunk and
the disadvantage that results from losing something
deprivation had been not having any dreams of her own at all.
a meeting planned at a certain time and place
Now it was too late for the
rendezvous to happen at the Redmen’s house, so they dropped where they were.
with strained or eager attention
So looking at each other
intently was a Sunday-morning pleasure and Halle examined her as though storing up what he saw in sunlight for the shadow he saw the rest of the week.
It began as a little girl’s houseplay, but as her desires changed, so did the play. Quiet, private and completely secret except for the
noisome cologne signal that thrilled the rabbits before it confused them.
an expression of strong disapproval
Denver had taught herself to take pride in the
condemnation Negroes heaped on them; the assumption that the haunting was done by an evil thing looking for more.
freedom from vanity or conceit
The walls of the room were slate-colored, the floor earth-brown, the wooden dresser the color of itself, curtains white, and the dominating feature, the quilt over an iron cot, was made up of scraps of blue serge, black, brown and gray wool—the full range of the dark and the muted that thrift and
from appearances alone
Sometimes they ran along the railroad track laughing, too loud,
apparently, to hear her because they never did turn around.
moderate to inferior in quality
So, although the carnival was a lot less than
mediocre (which is why it agreed to a Colored Thursday), it gave the four hundred black people in its audience thrill upon thrill upon thrill.
turned or twisted to one side
Women who drink champagne when there is nothing to celebrate can look like that: their straw hats with broken brims are often
askew; they nod in public places; their shoes are undone.
the articulation of speech with regards to intelligibility
He recognized the careful
enunciation of letters by those, like himself, who could not read but had memorized the letters of their name.
of the greatest intensity; complete
Just as Denver discovered and relied on the delightful effect sweet things had on Beloved, Sethe learned the
profound satisfaction Beloved got from storytelling.
wishing or appearing to wish evil to others
"The shoe strings don’t fix!” she shouted and gave him a look so
malevolent Denver touched her arm.
sorrowful through loss or deprivation
During, before and after the War he had seen Negroes so stunned, or hungry, or tired or
bereft it was a wonder they recalled or said anything.
raw milk that has soured and thickened
There is also my husband squatting by the churn smearing the butter as well as its
clabber all over his face because the milk they took is on his mind.
more than is needed, desired, or required
The break, followed by the
redundant announcement of labor, arched her back.
Into the empty space of not knowing about Halle—a space sometimes colored with
righteous resentment at what could have been his cowardice, or stupidity or bad luck—that empty place of no definite news was filled now with a brand-new sorrow and who could tell how many more on the way.
turn aside; turn away from
It was only a tiny disturbance anyway—not strong enough to
divert her from the ambition welling in her now: she wanted Paul D. No matter what he told and knew, she wanted him in her life.
marked by a lack of interest
The patience of her mother and grandmother in its presence made her
indifferent to it.
gather or bring together
Even when she did
muster the courage to ask Nelson Lord’s question, she could not hear Sethe’s answer, nor Baby Suggs’ words, nor anything at all thereafter.
hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire
Denver was alarmed by the harm she thought Beloved planned for Sethe, but felt helpless to
thwart it, so unrestricted was her need to love another.
a revival from inactivity and disuse
But the damage he did came undone with the miraculous
resurrection of Beloved.
(of a liquid) agitated vigorously; in a state of turbulence
By the time they unhitched him from the wagon and he saw nothing but dogs and two shacks in a world of sizzling grass, the
roiling blood was shaking him to and fro.
serving to bring to mind
The illness that swept them now was
reminiscent of the one that had killed half their number two hundred years earlier.
yield to another's wish or opinion
Deferring to his slaves’ opinions did not deprive him of authority or power.
When he stood up from the supper table at 124 and turned toward the stairs, nausea was first, then
a feeling of thoughtful sadness
So, when he saw the diminished expectation in her eyes, the
melancholy without blame, he could not say it.
feeling a need to see others suffer
The threads of
malice creeping toward him from Beloved’s side of the table were held harmless in the warmth of Sethe’s smile.
shower with love; show excessive affection for
Who had not even escaped slavery—had, in fact, been bought out of it by a
doting son and driven to the Ohio River in a wagon—free papers folded between her breasts (driven by the very man who had been her master, who also paid her resettlement fee—name of Garner), and rented a house with two floors and a well from the Bodwins—the white brother and sister who gave Stamp Paid, Ella and John clothes, goods and gear for runaways because they hated slavery worse than they hated slaves.
providing no shelter or sustenance
And no matter, for the sadness was at her center, the
desolated center where the self that was no self made its home.
uselessness as a consequence of having no practical result
Caught red-handed, so to speak, they would seem to recognize the
futility of outsmarting a whiteman and the hopelessness of outrunning a rifle.
dignified and somber in manner or character
solemn air with which Stamp had unfolded the paper, the tenderness in the old man’s fingers as he stroked its creases and flattened it out, first on his knees, then on the split top of the piling, Paul D knew that it ought to mess him up.
injure or wound seriously and leave permanent disfiguration
Nor was it there because the person had been killed, or
maimed or caught or burned or jailed or whipped or evicted or stomped or raped or cheated, since that could hardly qualify as news in a newspaper.
a dense growth of trees, shrubs, or bushes
Daylight came and they huddled in a
copse of redbud trees.
disinclined to work or exertion
Where she was once
indolent, resentful of every task, now she is spry, executing, even extending the assignments Sethe leaves for them.
viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal
For a month or so in the winter any stray man had work, if he could breathe the stench of
offal and stand up for twelve hours, skills in which Paul D was admirably trained.
separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument
This here Sethe talked about love like any other woman; talked about baby clothes like any other woman, but what she meant could
cleave the bone.