On the other side of the island, swathed at midday with mirage, defended by the shield of the quiet lagoon, one might dream of rescue; but here, faced by the brute obtuseness of the ocean, the miles of division, one was clamped down, one was helpless, one was condemned, one was— Simon was speaking almost in his ear.
There are no more uses of "obtuse" in the book.
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too obtuse to grasp the implications of his behavior
How can she be so brilliantly incisive on one page and so infuriatingly obtuse on the next?