"Sula," Vocabulary from pages 89-137 40 words

As you read Toni Morrison’s 1973 novel “Sula,” learn these word lists: pages 1-29, pages 30-48, pages 49-85, pages 89-137, and pages 138-174.
  1. plague
    a swarm of insects that attack plants
    Plague is being used metaphorically -- it would take a lot of insects to constitute a plague, so we're supposed to assume there is a very large number of robins.
    Accompanied by a plague of robins, Sula came back to Medallion.
  2. flood
    the rising of a body of water and its overflowing onto normally dry land
    Although most of the people remembered the time when the sky was black for two hours with clouds and clouds of pigeons, and although they were accustomed to excesses in nature—too much heat, too much cold, too little rain, rain to flooding—they still dreaded the way a relatively trivial phenomenon could become sovereign in their lives and bend their minds to its will.
  3. grief
    intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one (especially by death)
    To smile at the sheer loveliness that pressed in from the windows and touched his grief, making it a pleasure to behold.
  4. pile
    place or lay as if in a pile
    When she scratched the screen door, as in the old days, and stepped inside, the dishes piled in the sink looked as though they belonged there; the dust on the lamps sparkled; the hair brush lying on the “good” sofa in the living room did not have to be apologetically retrieved, and Nel’s grimy intractable children looked like three wild things happily insouciant in the May shine.
  5. insouciant
    marked by blithe unconcern
    When she scratched the screen door, as in the old days, and stepped inside, the dishes piled in the sink looked as though they belonged there; the dust on the lamps sparkled; the hair brush lying on the “good” sofa in the living room did not have to be apologetically retrieved, and Nel’s grimy intractable children looked like three wild things happily insouciant in the May shine.
  6. giggle
    laugh nervously
    Nel giggled at the remembrance of that teen-time tale.
  7. scared
    made afraid
    “I’m scared of her, Nellie. That's why."
  8. lopsided
    having one side lower or smaller or lighter than the other
    The one with the scriggly yellow lines running lopsided across the dark-blue field.
  9. strident
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    A scream not for others, not in sympathy for a burnt child, or a dead father, but a deeply personal cry for one’s own pain. A loud, strident: “Why me?”
  10. preen
    dress or groom with elaborate care
    The lilac bushes preened at the railing, but there were no lilacs yet.
  11. complicity
    guilt as an accomplice in a crime or offense
    Anyone who left behind that aura of fun and complicity?
  12. flay
    strip the skin off
    This very grief that had twisted her into a curve on the floor and flayed her would be gone.
  13. fluffy
    like down or as soft as down
    A ball of muddy strings, but without weight, fluffy but terrible in its malevolence.
  14. disgust
    strong feelings of dislike
    Every one of them imagined the scene, each according to his own predilections—Sula underneath some white man —and it filled them with choking disgust.
  15. filthy
    vile; despicable
    There was nothing lower she could do, nothing filthier.
  16. precisely
    indicating exactness or preciseness
    In that way, they regarded integration with precisely the same venom that white people did.
  17. conjure
    summon into action or bring into existence, often as if by magic
    Sula acknowledged none of their attempts at counter- conjure or their gossip and seemed to need the services of nobody.
  18. misfortune
    an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
    Once the source of their personal misfortune was identified, they had leave to protect and love one another.
  19. identify
    recognize as being; establish the identity of someone or something
    Once the source of their personal misfortune was identified, they had leave to protect and love one another.
  20. awareness
    having knowledge of
    They would no more run Sula out of town than they would kill the robins that brought her back, for in their secret awareness of Him, He was not the God of three faces they sang about.
  21. provoke
    provide the needed stimulus for
    They could kill easily if provoked to anger, but not by design, which explained why they could not “mob kill” anyone.
  22. compliment
    a remark (or act) expressing praise and admiration
    She was completely free of ambition, with no affection for money, property or things, no greed, no desire to command attention or compliments—no ego.
  23. behave
    behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself
    If they were touched by the snake’s breath, however fatal, they were merely victims and knew how to behave in that role (just as Nel knew how to behave as the wronged wife).
  24. surrender
    a verbal act of admitting defeat
    But the free fall, oh no, that required— demanded—invention: a thing to do with the wings, a way of holding the legs and most of all a full surrender to the downward flight if they wished to taste their tongues or stay alive.
  25. drift
    wander from a direct course or at random
    Nel was one of the reasons she had drifted back to Medallion, that and the boredom she found in Nashville, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Macon and San Diego.
  26. craving
    an intense desire for some particular thing
    In a way, her strangeness, her naivete, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination.
  27. gleaming
    bright with a steady but subdued shining
    He came regularly then, bearing gifts: clusters of black berries still on their branches, four meal-fried porgies wrapped in a salmon-colored sheet of the Pittsburgh Courier, a handful of jacks, two boxes of lime Jell-Well, a hunk of ice-wagon ice, a can of Old Dutch Geanser with the bonneted woman chasing dirt with her stick; a page of Tillie the Toiler comics, and more gleaming white bottles of milk.
  28. generosity
    the trait of being willing to give your money or time
    His kindness to them in general was not due to a ritual of seduction (he had no need for it) but rather to the habit he acquired in dealing with his mother, who inspired thoughtfulness and generosity in all her sons.
  29. pursuit
    a diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts (usually pleasantly)
    The rest of the time, the time he was not watching his mother’s magic or thinking of airplanes, he spent in the idle pursuits of bachelors without work in small towns.
  30. sway
    move or walk in a swinging or swaying manner
    As she rocked there, swayed there, like a Georgia pine on its knees, high above the slipping, falling smile, high above the golden eyes and the velvet helmet of hair, rocking, swaying, she focused her thoughts to bar the creeping disorder that was flooding her hips.
  31. alabaster
    a compact fine-textured, usually white gypsum used for carving
    And if I take a nail file or even Eva’s old paring knife— that will do—and scrape away at the gold, it will fall away and there will be alabaster.
  32. appointment
    a meeting arranged in advance
    Like women sitting for two hours under the marcelling irons only to wonder two days later how soon they would need another appointment.
  33. whistle
    acoustic device that forces air or steam against an edge or into a cavity and so produces a loud shrill sound
    The ribbon- tying was followed by other activity, and when Ajax came that evening, bringing her a reed whistle he had carved that morning, not only was the green ribbon still in her hair, but the bathroom was gleaming, the bed was made, and the table was set for two.
  34. license
    a legal document giving official permission to do something
    Then one day, burrowing in a dresser drawer, she found what she had been looking for: proof that he had been there, his driver’s license.
  35. idle
    not in active use
    In a way, her strangeness, her naivete, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination.
  36. curiosity
    a state in which you want to learn more about something
    Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings; had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for.
  37. uniqueness
    the quality of being one of a kind
    Afraid their husbands would discover that no uniqueness lay between their legs.
  38. deterrent
    something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
    The fact that their own skin color was proof that it had happened in their own families was no deterrent to their bile.
  39. raucous
    disturbing the public peace; loud and rough
    She thought she liked the sootiness of sex and its comedy; she laughed a great deal during the raucous beginnings, and rejected those lovers who regarded sex as healthy or beautiful.
  40. aberration
    a state or condition markedly different from the norm
    In their world, aberrations were as much a part of nature as grace.