"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-4 35 words

Mildred D. Taylor sets her story of racial strife and unequal opportunity, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," in the southern United States during the Depression. Economic hardship serves to heighten the tension and danger that the four African-American children at the heart of the story face everyday.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-8, Chapters 9-12
  1. exasperation
    an exasperated feeling of annoyance
    “You keep it up and make us late for school, Mama’s gonna wear you out,” I threatened, pulling with exasperation at the high collar of the Sunday dress Mama had made me wear for the first day of school—as if that event were something special.
  2. admonish
    admonish or counsel in terms of someone's behavior
    “Ah, Cassie, leave him be,” Stacey admonished, frowning and kicking testily at the road.
  3. accustom
    make psychologically or physically used (to something)
    There was little I could do in a dress, and as for shoes, they imprisoned freedom-loving feet accustomed to the feel of the warm earth.
  4. multitude
    a large indefinite number
    Beyond the protective fencing of the forest, vast farming fields, worked by a multitude of share-cropping families, covered two thirds of a ten-square-mile plantation.
  5. threadbare
    having the nap worn away so that the threads show through
    For it he would work the long, hot summer pounding steel; Mama would teach and run the farm; Big Ma, in her sixties, would work like a woman of twenty in the fields and keep the house; and the boys and I would wear threadbare clothing washed to dishwater color; but always, the taxes and the mortgage would be paid.
  6. underhanded
    marked by deception
    Stacey, who generally overlooked T.J.’s underhanded stunts, shook his head.
  7. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    He ran frantically along the road looking for a foothold and, finding one, hopped onto the bank, but not before the bus had sped past enveloping him in a scarlet haze while laughing white faces pressed against the bus windows.
  8. expansive
    able or tending to expand or characterized by expansion
    In the very center of the expansive front lawn, waving red, white, and blue with the emblem of the Confederacy emblazoned in its upper left-hand corner, was the Mississippi flag.
  9. glean
    gather, as of natural products
    But even so, after today a number of the older students would not be seen again for a month or two, not until the last puff of cotton had been gleaned from the fields, and eventually most would drop out of school altogether.
  10. abound
    be abundant or plentiful; exist in large quantities
    Patches on faded pants and dresses abounded on boys and girls come so recently from the heat of the cotton fields.
  11. reverberate
    ring or echo with sound
    As the last gong of the bell reverberated across the compound, I swooped up my pencils and notebook and ran inside.
  12. anticipation
    something expected (as on the basis of a norm)
    My anticipation at having my own book ebbed to a sinking disappointment.
  13. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    He just stood staring down at the open book, shivering with indignant anger.
  14. dismayed
    struck with fear, dread, or consternation
    Miss Crocker, dismayed by Mama’s seeming unconcern for the seriousness of the matter, thrust her shoulders back and began moving away from the desk.
  15. maverick
    someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action
    Although Mama had been a teacher at Great Faith for fourteen years, ever since she had graduated from the Crandon Teacher Training School at nineteen, she was still considered by many of the other teachers as a disrupting maverick.
  16. wary
    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
    The fact that she had not grown up in Spokane County but in the Delta made her even more suspect, and the more traditional thinkers like Miss Crocker were wary of her.
  17. formidable
    inspiring fear
    But now, gazing upward at the most formidable-looking being we had ever encountered, we huddled closer to Papa.
  18. kin
    a person having kinship with another or others
    Well, she’s kin to the Berrys and she was with John Henry and Beacon when the trouble got started.
  19. endure
    face and withstand with courage
    If we had been faced only with the prospect of the rain soaking through our clothing each morning and evening, we could have more easily endured the journey between home and school.
  20. dejected
    affected or marked by low spirits
    Stacey and Christopher-John left to change into their work clothes, but Little Man sat on the side bench looking totally dejected as he gazed at his pale-blue pants crusted with mud from the knees down.
  21. accelerate
    move faster
    Five minutes later we were skidding like frightened puppies toward the bank again as the bus accelerated and barreled down the narrow rain-soaked road; but there was no place to which we could run, for Stacey had been right.
  22. beckon
    summon with a wave, nod, or some other gesture
    As we crossed the school lawn, Stacey beckoned Christopher-John, Little Man, and me aside.
  23. oblivious
    (followed by `to' or `of') lacking conscious awareness of
    And for once in his life, Little Man was happily oblivious to the mud spattering upon him.
  24. noticeable
    capable of being detected
    As I slipped into my seat Miss Crocker looked at me oddly and shook her head, but when she did the same thing as Mary Lou and Alma sat down, I decided that my mud was no more noticeable than anyone else’s.
  25. lopsided
    having one side lower or smaller or lighter than the other
    Then it sputtered a last murmuring protest and died, its left front wheel in our ditch, its right wheel in the gully, like a lopsided billy goat on its knees.
  26. disgruntled
    in a state of sulky dissatisfaction
    No longer laughing, they moved spiritlessly toward their homes while a disgruntled Mr. Grimes leaned moodily against the raised rear end of the bus.
  27. contagious
    easily diffused or spread as from one person to another
    Yet just one glance at each other and we were lost, slumping on the table in helpless, contagious laughter.
  28. reckon
    expect, believe, or suppose
    “Oh, I’ll do, I reckon,” said Big Ma, still ironing.
  29. haggard
    showing the wearing effects of overwork or care or suffering
    He collapsed in silence by the door, breathing hard, and although I could not see him, I knew that his face was drawn and that his eyes had taken on a haggard look.
  30. lull
    calm by deception
    Soon the chill of the cotton sheets beneath me began to fade and as Big Ma’s presence lulled me into a security I did not really feel, I fell asleep.
  31. skittish
    unpredictably excitable (especially of horses)
    Jason whined loudly, growing skittish as the lights approached, and when they slowed and braked before the house he slunk beneath the porch.
  32. chide
    censure severely or angrily
    Then, thrusting his arm around Stacey’s shoulders, he chided, “Friends gotta trust each other, Stacey, ’cause ain’t nothin’ like a true friend.”
  33. wizened
    lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness
    The face had no nose, and the head no hair; the skin was scarred, burned, and the lips were wizened black, like charcoal.
  34. patronize
    be a regular customer or client of
    She also spoke of finding another store to patronize, one where the proprietors were more concerned about the welfare of the community.
  35. earn
    acquire or deserve by one's efforts or actions
    This year I earned me near two hundred dollars after Mr. Montier took his half of the crop money, but I ain’t seen a penny of it.