Every passerby, every motorcar, every alteration in
stance caught their attention and was commented on.
the shame you feel when your inadequacy or guilt is made public
Nel and Sula walked through this valley of eyes chilled by the wind and heated by the
embarrassment of appraising stares.
clearly defined or formulated
Pig meat. The words were in all their minds. And one of them, one of the young ones, said it aloud. Softly but
definitively and there was no mistaking the compliment.
characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, or execution
Graceful and economical in every movement, he held a place of envy with men of all ages for his magnificently foul mouth.
utter obscenities or profanities
In fact he seldom
cursed, and the epithets he chose were dull, even harmless.
become glassy or take on a glass-like appearance
Years later their own eyes would
glaze as they cupped their chins in remembrance of the inchworm smiles, the squatting haunches, the track-rail legs straddling broken chairs.
sit or stand astride of
Years later their own eyes would glaze as they cupped their chins in remembrance of the inchworm smiles, the squatting haunches, the track-rail legs
straddling broken chairs.
squeeze like a wedge into a tight space
Similarly, Sula, also an only child, but
wedged into a household of throbbing disorder constantly awry with things, people, voices and the slamming of doors, spent hours in the attic behind a roll of linoleum galloping through her own mind on a gray-and-white horse tasting sugar and smelling roses in full view of a someone who shared both the taste and the speed.
away from the correct or expected course
Similarly, Sula, also an only child, but wedged into a household of throbbing disorder constantly
awry with things, people, voices and the slamming of doors, spent hours in the attic behind a roll of linoleum galloping through her own mind on a gray-and-white horse tasting sugar and smelling roses in full view of a someone who shared both the taste and the speed.
a small contrasting part of something
The birthmark was to grow darker as the years passed, but now it was the same shade as her gold-
flecked eyes, which, to the end, were as steady and clean as rain.
a characteristic (habitual or relatively temporary) state of feeling
Yet there was one time when that was not true, when she held on to a
mood for weeks, but even that was in defense of Nel.
spreading or spread throughout
What they found was a strange accent, a
pervasive fear of their religion and firm resistance to their attempts to find work.
someone who lives at a particular place for a prolonged period or who was born there
With one exception the older
residents of Medallion scorned them.
unpredictably excitable (especially of horses)
It was in that summer, the summer of their twelfth year, the summer of the beautiful black boys, that they became
skittish, frightened and bold—all at the same time.
to push against gently
He would have left him there but noticed that it was a child, not an old black man, as it first appeared, and he
prodded the body loose, netted it and hauled it aboard.
deeply absorbed in thought
Later, sitting down to smoke on an empty lard tin, still
bemused by God’s curse and the terrible burden his own kind had of elevating Ham’s sons, he suddenly became alarmed by the thought that the corpse in this heat would have a terrible odor, which might get into the fabric of his woolen cloth.
an expression of regret at having caused trouble for someone
Eva couldn’t see Hannah clearly for the tears, but she looked up at her anyway and said, by way of
apology or explanation or perhaps just by way of neatness, “But I held him close first."
to walk with a lofty proud gait, often in an attempt to impress others
strutted by with one suspicious eye on the deweys, another on the brick fireplace where sheets and mason jars were boiled.
fall or come down violently
She missed and came
crashing down some twelve feet from Hannah’s smoke.
intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain
She lay there on the wooden sidewalk planks, twitching lightly among the smashed tomatoes, her face a mask of
agony so intense that for years the people who gathered ’round would shake their heads at the recollection of it.
a formal party of people; as after a wedding
A real wedding, in a church, with a real
reception afterward, was rare among the people of the Bottom.
the actions and activities assigned to or required or expected of a person or group
So it was rage, rage and a determination to take on a man’s
role anyhow that made him press Nel about settling down.
an indirect suggestion
Nel’s indifference to his
hints about marriage disappeared altogether when she discovered his pain.
any of various kinds of wheeled vehicles drawn by an animal or a tractor
“Now,” Eva looked up across from her
wagon at her daughter.
a feeling of great (usually exaggerated) elation
In a state of
euphoria, with a hunger for more and more, die council of founders cast its eye toward a future that would certainly include trade from cross-river towns.
the state (and responsibilities) of a person who has attained maturity
He needed some of his appetites filled, some posture of
adulthood recognized, but mosdy he wanted someone to care about his hurt, to care very deeply.
the quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability
More than anything he wanted the
camaraderie of the road men: the lunch buckets, the hollering, the body movement that in the end produced something real, something he could point to.
a decorative pin worn by women
The tea roses above her left breast had slipped from the
brooch that fastened them and were hanging heads down.
the successful completion of a program of study
She thought it was the perfect thing to do following their
graduation from general school.
draw advantages from
In fact, she handled most of the details very efficiently,
capitalizing on the fact that most people were anxious to please her since she had lost her mamma only a few years back and they still re-membered the agony in Hannah’s face and the blood on Eva’s.