It means he was very sensitive to contradictions, so much that he could smell them.
Student or Learner
Hi, during the following sentence, from “Charlie Hogle’s Earring” by Paul Theroux, would you please explain the meaning of the red part? Thanks a lot.
He looked at me closely, and sniffed. He was an honest fellow for whom a contradiction was a bad smell.
Thank you so much. But I could not understand what that means so! Would you please explain more? Thanks.
He was an honest fellow for whom a contradiction was a bad smell.
In fact, my major problem that I did not find "sensitive" for honest's meaning in a dictionary. Also, I did not know that whom is referring to who? In addition, If it means that, I think that the author should use "a contradiction has a bad smell", I mean "has" instead of "was". Would you please explain my problems. Thanks a lot.
'Whom' refers back to 'fellow'. "For the fellow, a contradiction was a bad smell."
The author could have used 'has' if he wanted to signify that, to this fellow, contradictions possessed a bad smell. But obviously the author wanted to say that, to this fellow, a contradiction was a bad smell. You could think of it as a metaphor.
He didn't like contradictions and responded to them in a way similar to how we respond when something smells very bad.