having or showing arrogant superiority to
Ellen stood on tiptoe again, and made an
imperious gesture with her arm.
Unlike the haughty or disdainful attitude of Kirsti or the sneering, scornful, and contemptuous attitudes of the soldiers (all the adjectives are semi-synonymous), Ellen is neither a somewhat spoiled five-year-old who doesn't know any better nor an armed invader of a country whose king had surrendered. Rather, Ellen is joking with Annemarie and repeating a role she'd performed in a school play.
speak carefully, as with rising and falling pitch
“I am the Dark Queen,” she
intoned dramatically. “I have come to command the night!”
quickly and without warning
It was hours later, but still dark, when she was awakened
abruptly by the pounding on the apartment door.
compelling immediate action
“Ellen,” she whispered urgently, “take your necklace off!”
with great urgency
Desperately she began trying to unhook the tiny clasp.
in an uncontrolled manner
“I can’t get it open!” Ellen said
to gather something into small wrinkles or folds
As the door opened and light flooded into the bedroom, she
crumpled it into her hand and closed her fingers tightly.
These three uniformed men were different from the ones on the street corners. The street soldiers were often young, sometimes ill at ease, and Annemarie remembered how the Giraffe had, for a moment, let his
harsh pose slip and had smiled at Kirsti.
Compare to the synonymous "stern." "Harsh" also means "unkind or cruel or uncivil"--these adjectives apply less to the street soldiers who are simply doing their job and more to the soldiers who pound on the door at four in the morning, order Annemarie and Ellen out of bed, suggest that Mrs. Johansen had an affair with the milkman, and tear Lise's photograph in half to throw on the floor and grind with his boots.
taut or rigid; stretched tight
Her parents were standing beside each other, their faces
tense, but Kirsti was nowhere in sight.
"Tense" also means "in a state of physical or nervous strain"--both definitions apply to the parents; while their faces are physically rigid ("fixed and unmoving") in an attempt not to reveal Ellen as the daughter of the Jewish Rosens, they are also nervous about what could happen if the soldiers were to discover the truth.
harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance
The officer stared at them grimly.
without respect; in a disdainful manner
scornfully. “You have a blond child sleeping in the other room. And you have this blond daughter--” He gestured toward Annemarie with his head. “Where did you get the dark-haired one?”
marked by great skill especially in meticulous technique
Mama had written, in her
delicate handwriting, the name of each baby daughter across the bottom of those photographs.
marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable
“Lise Margrete,” he read finally, and stared at Ellen for a long,
squeeze together tightly
Annemarie relaxed the
clenched fingers of her right hand, which still clutched Ellen’s necklace.
mark or stamp with or as if with pressure
She looked down, and saw that she had
imprinted the Star of David into her palm.
unsettled in mind or opinion
Ellen and Annemarie both smiled tentatively. For a moment their fear was eased.
twist and press out of shape
One of them had something stuck in his teeth; he probed with his tongue and
distorted his own face.
imposing in size or bulk or solidity
She had been talking about Kronborg Castle ever since they had seen it, sprawling
massive and ancient, beside the sea, from the train.
from appearances alone
It pretended to ignore the girls, but looked back often to be certain that they were still there,
apparently pleased to have playmates.
"Apparently" also means "unmistakably"--since "it" refers to a kitten whom the girls do not know and who is acting the opposite of its feelings, they cannot unmistakably figure out it is pleased to have playmates. They can assume that's the case from its sudden appearance and following of them, and they can confirm later when the kitten purrs at being held in Ellen's arms.
filled or abounding with fog or mist
They squinted into the
hazy distance, as if they might see Swedish children standing there and looking back.
a decorative design made of one material sewn over another
“I wish I knew where my parents are,” Ellen said in a small voice as she outlined one of the
appliqued birds with her finger.
move or establish in a new place
“Don’t tell me the soldiers try to—what’s the word?—
relocate butter, too?”
Annemarie is trying to joke with her question and her mother laughs in her response: "They relocate all the farmers' butter, right into the stomach of their army!" But both realize that there is nothing funny about the relocation of the Jews, which as Mama's words suggest, does not simply mean moving into a new place.
feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
But it wasn’t a joke at all, though Mama laughed ruefully.
having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
The kitten darted away when Kirsti’s attention was
distracted, and settled on the windowsill.
a mental representation of some haunting experience
Suddenly, here in this sunlit kitchen, with cream in a pitcher and a bird in the apple tree beside the door--and out in the Kattegat, where Uncle Henrik, surrounded by bright blue sky and water, pulled in his nets filled with shiny silver fish—suddenly the
specter of guns and grim-faced soldiers seemed nothing more than a ghost story, a joke with which to frighten children in the dark.