"Across Five Aprils," Vocabulary from Chapters 3-4 30 words

As you read Irene Hunt's "Across Five Aprils," learn this word list that focuses on attitudes towards war. Here are links to all our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-2, Chapters 3-4, Chapters 5-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12
  1. eloquence
    powerful and effective language
    Miles of bunting draped dozens of platforms, where speakers, by virtue of their prestige as men of property or of exceptional eloquence, found themselves called upon to fan the wrath of the people.
  2. oratory
    addressing an audience formally (usually a long and rhetorical address and often pompous)
    Families packed children and picnic baskets into wagons and drove to a different town each week, where the music of brass bands and the streams of inflamed oratory made a glorious succession of holidays for people long bound to the tedium of isolation.
  3. tedium
    dullness owing to length or slowness
    Families packed children and picnic baskets into wagons and drove to a different town each week, where the music of brass bands and the streams of inflamed oratory made a glorious succession of holidays for people long bound to the tedium of isolation.
  4. quavering
    (of the voice) quivering as from weakness or fear
    A handful of old veterans of the War of 1812 suddenly found themselves reassigned to the role of heroes after years of having been all but forgotten, and their quavering voices added to the din.
  5. resolve
    the trait of being resolute
    The dust and heat, the emotion and noise, became almost unbearable to many; but there were always others who returned the following week, comforting their baser selves with barbecued pork and fowl, while their spirits were uplifted by words of high resolve and confidence from the speaker’s platform.
  6. spectacle
    something or someone seen (especially a notable or unusual sight)
    "Spectacle" also means "an elaborate and remarkable display on a lavish scale" and "a blunder that makes you look ridiculous"--these meanings could apply to the spectators (as seen by the reader) who got all dressed up and packed picnic baskets to watch young men butchering each other.
    They read a full account of the battle of Bull Run from the Chicago newspapers—how congressmen had driven out in their carriages accompanied by hoop-skirted ladies, all apparently eager to see the spectacle of young men butchering one another; how these carriages and spectators choked the roads when the Union troops were finally turned into a confused, bewildered mob scurrying for safety.
  7. prophesy
    predict or reveal through, or as if through, divine inspiration
    Tom and Eb were sullen and resentful for days that their prophesies of an easy victory should so early have taken on a hollow ring.
  8. fiasco
    a sudden and violent collapse
    Word of a fiasco at a place in the East called Ball’s Bluff came while people were still stunned by the news from Bull Run.
  9. chafe
    feel extreme irritation or anger
    He went to the rallies, often taking Jethro along; he sat in the dooryard night after night and listened as the two younger boys chafed to be off the minute they could be spared, and as John and Shadrach made their plans to leave at least by mid-winter.
  10. denounce
    to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful
    Fremont was denounced as the general who had made Missouri a nightmare of hatred and turmoil by his self-imposed role as emancipator of slavery in that state; on the other hand, he was praised for being a dedicated and courageous man who spoke out against slavery while the timid President would not do so.
  11. turmoil
    violent agitation
    The turmoil of Missouri spilled over into southern Illinois; Sumter and Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff had been far away; but Wilson’s Creek and the conflicting passions of Missouri were very close to the men who gathered to talk in the Creightons’ yard and to the wives and children who listened to the talk.
  12. secession
    formal separation from an alliance or federation
    “I hate slavery, Jeth, but I hate another slavery of people workin’ their lives away in dirty fact’ries fer a wage that kin scarce keep life in ’em; I hate secession, but at the same time I can’t see how a whole region kin be able to live if their way of life is all of a sudden upset; I hate talk of nullification, but at the same time I hate laws passed by Congress that favors one part of a country and hurts the other.”
  13. nullification
    the states'-rights doctrine that a state can refuse to recognize or to enforce a federal law passed by the United States Congress
    “I hate slavery, Jeth, but I hate another slavery of people workin’ their lives away in dirty fact’ries fer a wage that kin scarce keep life in ’em; I hate secession, but at the same time I can’t see how a whole region kin be able to live if their way of life is all of a sudden upset; I hate talk of nullification, but at the same time I hate laws passed by Congress that favors one part of a country and hurts the other.”
  14. desolate
    crushed by grief
    Jethro was awed by his brother’s outburst. He knew that Bill was no longer talking to him, and he felt suddenly desolate and alone.
  15. blithely
    in a joyous manner
    Autumn was blithely indifferent to the tumult in the land that year.
  16. somber
    grave or even gloomy in character
    On that afternoon in the autumn of ’61, he made one of his rare visits to the hill, drawn to it by the beauty of the surrounding woods and perhaps by the somber mood of the times.
  17. audible
    heard or perceptible by the ear
    “What’s hurt you, Bill?” he asked, his voice barely audible, for he was pretty sure he knew.
  18. perplexity
    trouble or confusion resulting from complexity
    They came at night, wakened him, and then lapsed into silence, leaving him in fear and perplexity.
  19. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    Here was something to make them proud, something to give them hope after the despairing stories of Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff and Wilson’s Creek.
  20. tonic
    a medicine that strengthens and invigorates
    He reached for the week-old paper and read again the letter that was the great tonic and stimulant of the day:
  21. sorrow
    an emotion of great sadness associated with loss or bereavement
    Jethro noticed that his mother’s face was strangely twisted when he looked up from the letter; there was a look about her as if sorrow had been frozen in her face, a look he had not seen there before—not even on the day when he had come home from Walnut Hill to tell her that Bill had left.
  22. insignificant
    devoid of importance, meaning, or force
    There’s been a long chain of events leading up to this time; the dreams of men in my generation are as insignificant as that—” he snapped his fingers sharply.
  23. optimist
    a person disposed to take a favorable view of things
    The end of the war is in sight for the optimists.
  24. sober
    completely lacking in playfulness
    Jethro sat quietly watching his teacher’s sober face.
  25. involuntarily
    against your will
    He wondered if Tom had a coat and blanket; he thought of the bitter cold outside and shuddered involuntarily.
  26. brutal
    (of persons or their actions) able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering
    “It’s all a brutal business.
  27. dispel
    force to go away; used both with concrete and metaphoric meanings
    Jethro and young Yale were silent, a part of the great dread that spread in all directions over the land that night, a dread that all the cheers over Fort Henry and Donelson couldn’t dispel;
  28. rebuke
    an act or expression of criticism and censure
    One reason Jethro would remember this rebuke is that it came from a teacher he admires and loves. Another reason, which is why the author is drawing attention to it, is that the informal attitude and rebuke affect Jethro's later decision to write to the President.
    He would remember the rebuke to the end of his days.
  29. baleful
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    A baleful stare is usually not meant to delight, but it is here because Shadrach is using mimicry to make fun of people who had annoyed him in order to get Jethro's mind off the war.
    “It’s larnin’ we want in this here school, young feller,” Shadrach drawled, glaring balefully at his delighted guest.
  30. constriction
    a tight feeling in some part of the body
    Shadrach put his hand to his throat as if some constriction had suddenly tightened it, but he answered the smile.