"Beloved" by Toni Morrison, Part 2

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Morrison's novel tells the story of Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman who is haunted by her past.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Here are links to our lists for other works by Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Jazz
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definitions & notes only words
  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 notification 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
    destroy completely by or as if by fire
    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 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. conflagration
    a very intense and uncontrolled fire
    Out on Bluestone Road he thought he heard a conflagration of hasty voices—loud, urgent, all speaking at once so he could not make out what they were talking about or to whom.
  8. cipher
    convert ordinary language into code
    But something was wrong with the order of the words and he couldn’t describe or cipher it to save his life.
  9. dispense
    grant an exemption
    Dispensing with that formality was all the pay he expected from Negroes in his debt.
  10. forfeit
    lose the right to or lose 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. manumission
    the formal act of freeing from slavery
    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.
  12. 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.
  13. plait
    a hairdo formed by braiding or twisting the hair
    Her hair, which Denver had braided into twenty or thirty plaits, curved toward her shoulders like arms.
  14. exhume
    dig up for reburial or for medical investigation
    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
    With that, she gathered her blanket around her elbows and ascended the lily-white stairs like a bride.
  17. rebuke
    censure severely or angrily
    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 from hard 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. 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.
  22. timeless
    unaffected by the continuum from the past to the future
    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.
  23. 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.
  24. rile
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    “Not me. I’m going to stay riled till somebody gets some sense and leastway act like a Christian.”
  25. pilfer
    make off with belongings of others
    Schoolteacher took away the guns from the Sweet Home men and, deprived of game to round out their diet of bread, beans, hominy, vegetables and a little extra at slaughter time, they began to pilfer in earnest, and it became not only their right but their obligation.
  26. crotchety
    having a difficult and contrary disposition
    But each year, following the death of his son in the War, he grew more and more crotchety.
  27. arbor
    a framework that supports climbing plants
    Yonder, not far, was a grape arbor Mr. Garner made.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. rouse
    cause to be agitated or excited
    All she had left was her heart and they busted it so even the War couldn’t rouse her.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. suitable
    meant or adapted for an occasion or use
    Schoolteacher has changed his mind: “This one will never be suitable.”
  34. cogitation
    a carefully considered thought about something
    “My cogitation right now is Sweet Home.”
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. rectify
    make right or correct
    “If I did you harm, I’m here to rectify it.”
  38. tallow
    a hard substance used for making soap and candles
    Scripture Woodruff, Abie’s sister. Works at the brush and tallow factory.
  39. cameo
    engraving or carving in low relief on a stone
    He give Vashti that to wear. A cameo on a black ribbon.
  40. rheum
    a watery discharge from the mucous membranes
    Paul D’s eyes were rheumy.

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