not so well accustomed to middle-class life that

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t k

Senior Member
Korean - Korea
These men wanted wives who could manage, who were not so well accustomed to middle-class life that they had no ambition, no hunger, no hustle in them. (from Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison; a larger context is here; use ctrl-f to locate the sentence)

Please explain "not so well ...". Did these men want wives with ambition, hunger, and hustle? The meaning seems to change depending on where I place a pair of parentheses. Thanks. --- tk
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    First, it isn't "not so well". It is "not so well accustomed to middle class life". "Accustomed" here acts as an adjective, and "well" is an adverb that intensifies "accustomed." You might understand the sentence better if you took out the "well": "These men wanted wives [...] who were not so accustomed to middle-class life that they had no ambition..." The writer is saying that if you grow up with the comforts of middle-class life, you will not have any ambition to succeed, or a hunger to advance in life, because everything you wanted was given to you when you were young, and you never learned to struggle for advancement.
     
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