some duty that is essential and urgent
If an unaware person is told a part of the truth (it is
imperative that the answer embody truth), he is satisfied that his query has been answered.
the use of tricks to deceive someone
Would Momma, who knew the ways of the whites and the
wiles of the Blacks, try to answer her grandson, whose very life depended on his not truly understanding the enigma?
carefree and happy and lighthearted
Mother was a
blithe chick nuzzling around the large, solid dark hen.
be in contradiction with
(Said with a laugh that
belied the content.)
feeling jovial and full of good humor
With all her
jollity, Vivian Baxter had no mercy.
leniency and compassion shown toward offenders
She had the impartiality of nature, with the same lack of indulgence or
having or showing arrogant superiority to
The partner was not shouldering his portion of the responsibility, according to Mother, and when she confronted him he became
haughty and domineering, and he unforgivably called her a bitch.
lacking social polish
The air of collective displacement, the impermanence of life in wartime and the
gauche personalities of the more recent arrivals tended to dissipate my own sense of not belonging.
to cause to separate and go in different directions
The air of collective displacement, the impermanence of life in wartime and the gauche personalities of the more recent arrivals tended to
dissipate my own sense of not belonging.
raid and rove in search of booty
I understood the arrogance of the young sailors who marched the streets in
marauding gangs, approaching every girl as if she were at best a prostitute and at worst an Axis agent bent on making the U.S.A. lose the war.
a coating of gold or of something that looks like gold
The naval officers with their well-dressed wives and clean white babies inhabited another time-space dimension than I. The well-kept old women in chauffeured cars and blond girls in buckskin shoes and cashmere sweaters might have been San Franciscans, but they were at most
gilt on the frame of my portrait of the city.
of high moral or intellectual value
For the first semester, I was one of three Black students in the school, and in that
rarefied atmosphere I came to love my people more.
cheat somebody out of what is due, especially money
There was a cracker in Tulsa who
bilked so many Negroes he could set up a Negro
the social class between the lower and upper classes
When I met Dolores she had all the poses of the Black
bourgeoisie without the material basis to support the postures.
the quality of being faithful
Her hairdresser could count on absolute
fidelity and punctuality.
influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
I was asked,
cajoled, then ordered to care for my room.
prevent the progress or free movement of
My willingness to do so was
hampered by an abounding ignorance of how it should be done and a fumbling awkwardness with small objects.
remote in manner
If Dolores had been a little less
aloof, a little more earthy, she could have discovered that those ingredients were rife in her town proper, and Dad had no need to travel to Mexico to buy provisions.
a position well suited to the person who occupies it
It seemed hard to believe that he was a lonely person, searching relentlessly in bottles, under women’s skirts, in church work and lofty job titles for his “personal
niche,” lost before birth and unrecovered since.
a cherished desire
How maddening it was to have been born in a cotton field with
aspirations of grandeur.
emit unsteady sounds, alternating in amplitude or frequency
The music poured out of the record machine as high-tenored voices
wavered and held,
wavered and held for the passionate rancheros.
a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display
If Dolores knew, she would crawl up in her blanket of
affectations and die circumspectly.
strong feelings of embarrassment
The thought of her
mortification kept me company for a long time, but the sounds of music and laughter and Cisco Kid screams broke into my pleasant revengeful reveries.
stop the flow of a liquid
I tried to
staunch the flood of fear.
I didn’t expect or even need, now, his