someone who exhibits independence in thought and action
Although Mama had been a teacher at Great Faith for fourteen years, ever since she had graduated from the Crandon Teacher Training School at nineteen, she was still considered by many of the other teachers as a disrupting
maverick. (Chapter 1 p 27)
Indeed why was Mama perceived this way by the other teachers?
the southern states that seceded from the United States in 1861
In the very centre of the expansive front lawn, waving red, white, and blue with the emblem of the
Confederacy emblazoned in its upper left-hand corner, was the Mississippi flag. (Chapter 1 p 15)
Always meticulously neat, six-year-old Little Man never allowed dirt or tears or stains to
mar anything he owned. (Chapter 1 p 7)
a path or track roughly blazed through wild or hilly country
It seemed to me that showing up at school at all on a bright August-like October morning made for running the cool forest
trails and wading barefoot in the forest pond was concession enough; Sunday clothing was asking too much. (Chapter 1 p 7)
Cassie loves to run free along the cool forest trails and wade barefoot in the forest pond.
She seems to be a free spirit who enjoys the great outdoors so it is undertandable why she was dismayed about wasting a bright August-like October morning indoors. On top of that, she had to be in her Sunday best. This meant being dressed in a high-collared dress that she found restrictive.
capable of arousing interest or curiosity
Christopher-John and Stacey were not too pleased about the clothing or school either. Only Little Man, just beginnin his school career, found the prospects of both
intriguing. (Chapter 1 p 7)
It appears that even though Cassie's little brother, Little Man, is only six years old, he is curious and excited about school, rather than anxious about the unknown and the unfamiliar.
take to task
"Y'all go ahead and get dirty if y'all wanna," he replied without even looking up from his studied steps.
"I betcha Mama's gonna 'clean' you, you keep it up," I grumbled.
"Ah, Cassie, leave him be," Stacey
admonished, frowning and kicking testily at the road.
"I ain't said nothing but - "
Stacey cut me a wicked look and I grew silent. (Chapter 1 p 8)
It looks like Stacey plays the role of big brother by mediating between his siblings when the occasion requires him to step in. For instance, he did not allow Cassie to threaten their youngest brother. It is also clear that his younger siblings accord him due respect. When Stacey 'cut' Cassie 'with a wicked look' after admonishing her, she stopped bothering Little Man and grew silent.
your usual mood
disposition had been irritatingly sour lately. (Chapter 1 p 8)
We learn from Cassie why Stacey's mood has been irritatingly sour lately. He is going to be in their mother's class and it looks like he is unhappy with the idea of having his own mother as his teacher.
extensive landed property (especially in the country) retained by the owner for his own use
A barbed-wire fence ran the length of the deep field, stretching eastward for over a quarter of a mile until it met the sloping green pasture that signalled the end of our family's four hundred
Cassie's family has a 400 acre property on which they grow their own cotton and other crops. Other black families in the area are sharecroppers who work on Harlan Granger land. (Chapter 1 p 9)
Note: To read on and find out the reason for the difference in family fortunes.
very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
emaciated-looking boy popped suddenly from a forest trail and swung a thin arm around Stacey (Chapter 1 p 10)
Who is this emaciated-looking boy? What appears to be the relationship between this boy and Stacey?
of hair color; whitish
towheaded boy, barefooted and pale, came running down a forest path toward us (Chapter 1 p 14)
Who is the towheaded boy? Why is he running toward Cassie and her siblings?
deeply or seriously thoughtful
I let the matter drop and trudged along in moody silence, my brothers growing as pensively quiet as I. (Chapter 1 pp 8-9)
Why were the children pensively quiet as they walked to school?
a strong liking
I knew that he could not see the soiled covers or the marred pages from where he sat, and even though his
penchant for cleanliness was often annoying, I did not like to think of his disappointment when he saw the books as they really were.
What can we tell about Cassie and her youngest brother from the given sentence?
putting a person to death by mob action without due process
Heard tell they lynched a boy a few days ago at Crosston. (Chapter 2 p 35)
Who are they and what caused them to take the law into their own hands?
whiskey illegally distilled from a corn mash
Your mama tells me that a lot of the older children been going up to that Wallace store after school to dance and buy their
bootleg liquour and smoke cigarettes... We don't want y'all going to that place... If I ever find out y'all been up there, for any reason, I'm gonna wear y'all out.
What do Papa's words and the children's reactions show about his concerns as a father and his parenting style?
pitching dangerously to one side
The bus emitted a tremendous crack and
careened drunkenly into our trap. (Chapter 3 p 44)
What kind of trap did the children produce? Why did they do this?
turn sharply; change direction abruptly
Finally, when the bus was less than fifty feet behind us, it
veered dangerously close to the right edge of the road where we were running, forcing us to attempt the jump to the bank; but all of us fell short and landed in the slime of the gully. (Chapter 3 p 40)
How is this related to the children's attempt at 'well-maneuvered revenge!? (Chapter 3 p 46)