temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work
Ma, beside him, had folded her hands in her lap, had retired into a resistance against
related by blood
We got almost a
give or restore confidence in
“Don’t you worry,” Tom
reassured her. “We’re gonna find ya. California ain’t the whole world.”
wanting in strength or firmness or resilience
The whole group watched the revolt. They watched his
lax hands to see the fists form.
"Lax" also means "without rigor or strictness"--despite threats to whup Ma and the younger children, Pa is shown mostly as a loving husband and father who tries his best to provide for his family; his attitude toward discipline could be described as lax. Here in the example sentence, his hands, which are normally strong and firm from manual labor, are lax because he's helplessly surprised at Ma's sassy revolt.
the feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising
Ma looked in
astonishment at the bar of iron.
In addition to wielding a weapon, Ma scolds, "What we got lef’ in the worl’? Nothin’ but us. Nothin’ but the folks." This fierceness astonishes her (Latin root is "tonare" which means "to thunder"), yet vividly emphasizes the lengths a mother would go to in order to keep her family together and safe.
partial to you,” said Al.
Pa observed querulously, “That Rosasharn is gettin’ awful scary an’ nimsy-mimsy.”
the feeling that nothing will turn out well
And it might be that a sick child threw
despair into the hearts of twenty families, of a hundred people; that a birth there in a tent kept a hundred people quiet and awestruck through the night and filled a hundred people with the birth-joy in the morning.
set up or found
Every night a world created, complete with furniture—friends made and enemies
established; a world complete with braggarts and with cowards, with quiet men, with humble men, with kindly men.
proceeding in small stages
At first the families were timid in the building and tumbling worlds, but gradually the technique of building worlds became their technique.
be greater in scope or size than some standard
The families learned what rights must be observed—the right of privacy in the tent; the right to keep the past black hidden in the heart; the right to talk and to listen; the right to refuse help or to accept, to offer help or to decline it; the right of son to court and daughter to be courted; the right of the hungry to be fed; the rights of the pregnant and the sick to
transcend all other rights.
shockingly brutal or cruel
And the families learned, although no one told them, what rights are
monstrous and must be destroyed: the right to intrude upon privacy, the right to be noisy while the camp slept, the right of seduction or rape, the right of adultery and theft and murder.
the act of excluding someone from society by general consent
And with the laws, the punishments—and there were only two—a quick and murderous fight or
ostracism was the worst.
make into a whole or make part of a whole
In the long hot light, they were silent in the cars moving slowly westward; but at night they
integrated with any group they found.
prolonged unfulfilled desire or need
Then water in the evening was the
yearning, and food over the fire.
a courteous or respectful or considerate act
The car pulled off the road and stopped, and because others were there first, certain
courtesies were necessary.
developed or executed with care and in minute detail
And they made
elaborate acquaintanceship gestures.
the possibility of future success
And young girls found each other and boasted shyly of their popularity and their
"Prospect" also means "someone who is considered for something"--the "someone" here is a young man and the "something" is marriage; this is supported by the linking of the words "prospects" and "popularity" and the setting of the novel in the 1930s, when the possibilities for women succeeding outside the home were slim.
characterized by charm, good taste, and generosity of spirit
And each wished he could pick a guitar, because it is a
intensity or forcefulness of expression
Ruthie said, with soft
vehemence, “California. This here’s California an’ we’re right in it!”
quickly and without warning
“It ain’t no use,” Noah said. “I’m sad, but I can’t he’p it. I got to go.” He turned
abruptly and walked downstream along the shore.
"Abruptly" comes from the Latin "rumpere" which means "to break"--although the family was already falling apart with the death of Grampa, Noah's abrupt desertion creates a deliberate rupture in the family. But traveling with the other migrants on the same road introduces the Joads to a new vision of family.
having or showing arrogant superiority to
Granma called imperiously, “Will! Will! You come here, Will.”
a communication intended to urge or persuade to take action
From some little distance there came the sound of the beginning meeting, a sing-song chant of
characterized by propriety and dignity and good taste
Tom looked down the line of tents and he saw Ruthie and Winfield standing in front of a tent in
decorous conversation with someone inside.
summon with a wave, nod, or some other gesture
beckoned Pa into the cover of the tarpaulin and spoke softly to him.
unpredictably excitable (especially of horses)
Tom said, “I don’ know what’s got into Ma. She’s
flighty as a dog with a flea in his ear.
"Flighty" also means "guided by whim and fancy"--this definition is the opposite of Ma's practical nature: her flightiness here is mostly nervous anxiety that the inspection officers might stop them on account of Granma; it could also be a pun on her focus on the family's flight across the desert to California, where they can start a new life.
lacking definition or definite content
And whereas the wants of the Californians were
nebulous and undefined, the wants of the Okies were beside the roads, lying there to be seen and coveted: the good fields with water to be dug for, the good green fields, earth to crumble experimentally in the hand, grass to smell, oaten stalks to chew until the sharp sweetness was in the throat.
stab or urge on as if with a pointed stick
And such a man drove along the roads and knew temptation at every field, and knew the lust to take these fields and make them grow strength for his children and a little comfort for his wife. The temptation was before him always. The fields
goaded him, and the company ditches with good water flowing were a
goad to him.
characterized by physical misery
How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the
wretched bellies of his children?
control by holding down
And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history:
repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.