Momma and Willie treat Marguerite gently upon her return from St. Louis. She wanders about Stamps almost in a daze. People believe her to be “tender hearted”—they don’t forgive her for her sullenness, but they understand it.
“Tender hearted” is a loaded description. In this case, the phrase is a subtle critique of Marguerite’s response to her rape: she’s being too sensitive. The phrase is simultaneously understanding and cruelly critical.