"The Bluest Eye," Vocabulary from "Summer" 22 words

As you read Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," learn this word list that focuses on grim reapings. Here are links to our word lists for the novel: Foreword, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer
  1. parched
    dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight
    The parched days and sticky nights are undistinguished in my mind, but the storms, the violent sudden storms, both frightened and quenched me.
  2. incomprehensible
    difficult to understand
    And we did not dwell on the fact that the baby’s father was Pecola’s father too; the process of having a baby by any male was incomprehensible to us—at least she knew her father.
  3. overwhelming
    very intense
    We thought only of this overwhelming hatred for the unborn baby.
  4. devious
    characterized by insincerity or deceit; evasive
    We had defended ourselves since memory against everything and everybody, considered all speech a code to be broken by us, and all gestures subject to careful analysis; we had become headstrong, devious and arrogant.
  5. meddle
    intrude in other people's affairs or business; interfere unwantedly
    According to the chosen definition, one usually meddles in another person's business; one does not meddle someone else. But Pecola's use of the verb that way emphasizes her passive victimization (as well as her shortened education); it is also heartbreaking because she could have benefitted from more meddling by concerned friends and adults. But the conversation is actually one Pecola is having with herself, because she has gone mad.
    Why are you so busy meddling me?
    I just wondered. You don’t talk to anybody. You don’t go to school. And nobody talks to you.
    How do you know nobody talks to me?
  6. yearn
    desire strongly or persistently
    A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.
  7. exceed
    be or do something to a greater degree
    A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.
  8. tendril
    slender stem-like structure by which some twining plants attach themselves to an object for support
    The use of the word "tendril" emphasizes Pecola's tender (vulnerable and easily crushed) nature and youth. But while a tendril would attach itself to an object for support, Pecola is alone and jerking to the beat of her own drummer.
    She spent her days, her tendril, sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear.
  9. flail
    move like a flail; thresh about
    Elbows bent, hands on shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly.
  10. futile
    producing no result or effect
    Elbows bent, hands on shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly.
  11. sloven
    a coarse obnoxious person
    "Sloven" is a noun but the narrator is using it as an adjective. While Claudia could be seen as coarse and obnoxious for ignoring a hurting Pecola, in the example sentence, she was wondering how she could have been so slovenly in her planting. She had believed that God would grant her wish to help Pecola's baby live, if she gave up the money from selling the seeds. But Pecola's baby died; thus, Claudia assumed that her planting had been done poorly.
    Our flowers never grew. I was convinced that Frieda was right, that I had planted them too deeply. How could I have been so sloven? So we avoided Pecola Breedlove— forever.
  12. astride
    with one leg on each side
    We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness.
  13. sanctify
    make pure or free from sin or guilt
    Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor.
  14. eloquent
    expressing yourself readily, clearly, effectively
    Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent.
  15. hone
    make perfect or complete
    We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
  16. frailty
    the state of being weak in health or body (especially from old age)
    We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
  17. compassionate
    showing or having compassion
    And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved.
  18. simulate
    make a pretence of
    We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.
  19. matrix
    an enclosure within which something originates or develops (from the Latin for womb)
    But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death.
  20. neutralize
    make ineffective by counterbalancing the effect of
    The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.
  21. volition
    the act of making a choice
    Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.
  22. acquiesce
    to agree or express agreement
    Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.