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.
addressing an audience formally
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.
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.
(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.
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.
something or someone seen, especially a notable sight
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.
"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.
predict or reveal, 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.
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.
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.
to accuse or condemn openly as disgraceful
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.
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.
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.”
doctrine that a state can refuse to recognize a federal law
“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.”
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.
in a joyous manner
blithely indifferent to the tumult in the land that year.
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.
heard or perceptible by the ear
“What’s hurt you, Bill?” he asked, his voice barely
audible, for he was pretty sure he knew.
trouble or confusion resulting from complexity
They came at night, wakened him, and then lapsed into silence, leaving him in fear and
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.
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:
an emotion of great sadness associated with loss
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.
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.
a person disposed to take a favorable view of things
The end of the war is in sight for the
completely lacking in playfulness
Jethro sat quietly watching his teacher’s
against your will
He wondered if Tom had a coat and blanket; he thought of the bitter cold outside and shuddered
able or disposed to inflict pain or suffering
“It’s all a
force to go away
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
an act or expression of criticism and censure
He would remember the
rebuke to the end of his days.
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.
threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
“It’s larnin’ we want in this here school, young feller,” Shadrach drawled, glaring balefully at his delighted guest.
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.
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.