| Quote #1
"You better get into that barn and help Mr. Shortley. What do you reckon she pays you for?" (1.34)
Mrs. McIntyre uses her speech to exert authority over Astor. Because she is white, he can't meet her spiteful words without reprisal, even if he wanted to. He has to hint around politely to resist her.
| Quote #2
Mrs. Shortley could listen to all this calmly because she knew that if Mrs. McIntyre considered her trash, they wouldn't have talked about trashy people together. (1. 56)
Mrs. Shortley doesn't realize that, while Mrs. McIntyre doesn't consider her as trashy as her predecessors, she is still hinting that she considers Mrs. Shortley trash, and is using her intimations to make her nervous and insecure.
| Quote #3
She began to imagine a war or words, to see the Polish and English words coming at each other […]. She saw the Polish words flinging mud on the clean English words until everything was equally dirty. (1.102)
We still hear things like this today, though this kind of rhetoric was probably more blatant during World War II.