a swarm of insects that attack plants
Accompanied by a
plague of robins, Sula came back to Medallion.
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.
the rising of a body of water and its overflowing onto 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.
intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one
To smile at the sheer loveliness that pressed in from the windows and touched his
grief, making it a pleasure to behold.
place or lay as if in a heap
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.
marked by 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.
giggled at the remembrance of that teen-time tale.
scared of her, Nellie. That's why."
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.
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?”
dress or groom with elaborate care
The lilac bushes
preened at the railing, but there were no lilacs yet.
guilt as a confederate in a crime or offense
Anyone who left behind that aura of fun and
strip the skin off
This very grief that had twisted her into a curve on the floor and
flayed her would be gone.
like down or as soft as down
A ball of muddy strings, but without weight,
fluffy but terrible in its malevolence.
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
There was nothing lower she could do, nothing
In that way, they regarded integration with
precisely the same venom that white people did.
summon into action or bring into existence
Sula acknowledged none of their attempts at counter-
conjure or their gossip and seemed to need the services of nobody.
a state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
Once the source of their personal
misfortune was identified, they had leave to protect and love one another.
recognize as being
Once the source of their personal misfortune was
identified, they had leave to protect and love one another.
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.
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.
a remark 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
act in a certain manner
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts
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.
move or walk in a swinging 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.
a fine-textured 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
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
acoustic device that 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.
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
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
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.
the quality of being one of a kind
Afraid their husbands would discover that no
uniqueness lay between their legs.
something immaterial that interferes with 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.
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.
a state or condition markedly different from the norm
In their world,
aberrations were as much a part of nature as grace.