as various as it was unyielding

duydoan

Member
Vietnamese
These sentences are quoted from 'Giovanni's Room' by James Baldwin:
But no matter what was happening in that room, my mother was watching it. She looked out of the photograph frame, a pale, blonde woman, delicately put together, dark-eyed, and straight-browed, with a nervous, gentle mouth. But something about the way the eyes were set in the head and stared straight out, something very faintly sardonic and knowing in the set of the mouth suggested that, somewhere beneath this tense fragility was a strength as various as it was unyielding and, like my father’s wrath, dangerous because it was so entirely unexpected.
(bold emphasis by me)

For clearer context, "my mother was watching it" refers to the late mother's image in a photo frame placed on a mantelpiece.

The phrase "as various as it was unyielding" confuses me a bit. Does "various" here mean changeable/unfixed? And the pronoun "it" refers to "this tense fragility"? If so, what does this whole phrase mean?
 
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  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    And the pronoun "it" refers to "this tense fragility"?
    It refers to "strength". ...was a strength as various as it was unyielding...
    Does "various" here mean changeable/unfixed?
    I take "various" to mean "adaptable" (adaptable to various situations).
    The phrase "as various as it was unyielding" confuses me a bit.
    The writer means there was a strength beneath the fragility which (the strength) was unyielding and also "various", to more or less equal degree.

    As various as it was unyielding = Various to the same extent that it was unyielding.

    The phrase tells you three things - the strength was "various", it was unyielding and it was various and unyielding in about equal measure.
     
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