"Mockingbird," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-13

Kathryn Erskine's "Mockingbird" addresses with sensitivity two important issues that many modern families are all too familiar with: Asperger's Syndrome and school shootings.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-13, Chapters 14-26, Chapters 27-39
definitions & notes only words
  1. cavernous
    being or suggesting a large dark enclosed space
    It’s cold and hard and stiff on the outside and cavernous on the inside.
  2. memorial
    a recognition of meritorious service
    Another says, Wasn’t it a beautiful memorial service?
    In Latin, "memorare" means "to remember"--a memorial service is held to remember the life of a person who has died; this could often include recognizing what the person has done for the community. What makes this memorial service even sadder is not the memory of what the teacher and middle school students had done as much as what they could have done had they not been victims of a shooting.
  3. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    I would be superfluous.
    In Latin "super" means "over" and "fluere" means "to flow"--this would apply more to objects than people, but the next example sentence connects to the chosen definition. When applied to a person, "superfluous" could take on a more hurtful tone that means "serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being."
  4. sufficient
    of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
    My Dictionary says superfluous means exceeding what is sufficient or necessary.
  5. prefer
    like better; value more highly
    I want to tell her that I prefer TV on mute and I wish she’d cooperate.
  6. cremate
    reduce to ashes
    No parts of his body are left because he was cremated.
  7. seep
    pass gradually or leak or as if through small openings
    It is red and it spreads... seeping into a crack and bleeding across the unfinished wood.
  8. rage
    a feeling of intense anger
    He means the Tantrum Rage Meltdown kind.
  9. seam
    joint consisting of a line formed by joining two pieces
    And I want Red Dog so I get up and walk down the hall to my room which is thirteen and a half steps—more if you take little tiptoe steps so you don’t step on any of the seams in the wood.
  10. entire
    constituting the full quantity or extent; complete
    But that will never happen because I can’t go a whole entire day without drawing.
    "Entire" and "whole" are synonymous adjectives, so the use of "entire" seems superfluous here, but both words emphasize how painfully long a day would be for Caitlin if she could not have the time to draw.
  11. practically
    almost; nearly
    Josh practically falls into me so I step away and Josh lands on the ground.
  12. aorta
    the large artery carrying blood from the heart to the body
    First I pump the blood to the lungs to pick up the oxygen then to the left atrium and ventricle then to the aorta to go all around his body like it should.
  13. atrium
    a chamber connected to other chambers or passageways
    My arms are atria and my legs are ventricles and I pump the blood all around the right way because there has to be something I can do.
    Since her arms are not literally atria, Caitlin uses the word figuratively--this is because she can't actually control the pumping of her heart but she can control how she moves her arms and legs.
  14. fatal
    bringing death
    A gunshot wound to the Heart is almost always fatal.
  15. outgoing
    at ease in talking to others
    She’s very outgoing.
    This is a synonym for adjectives in the text that come right after: effusive, extroverted, and gregarious.
  16. stride
    a step in walking or running
    And you don’t need to match my exact stride or use your left foot when I use mine.
  17. pace
    the rate of moving (especially walking or running)
    We’re going to keep pace with each other because we’re talking to each other while we walk
    "Stride" and "pace" can be exact synonyms, but they're not used that way here: "pace" can easily replace "stride" in the previous example sentence, but "keep stride" would not sound as smooth as the often-used phrase "keep pace" (note the final and beginning p).
  18. persistent
    stubbornly unyielding
    I stop sucking my sleeve but I’ll go back to it later when she forgets because I’m persistent.
  19. hunch
    round one's back by bending forward
    He was sitting hunched over on a pew just the way he’s sitting hunched over on a bench right now.
  20. particle
    (nontechnical usage) a tiny piece of anything
    There are rays of light coming in through the blinds and the dust swirls around in the beams and hits the chest and I wonder if any of the dust particles are Devon and if I can feel him.
  21. preliminary
    preceding or in preparation for something more important
    I’m at the courthouse where the remaining killer from the Virginia Dare Middle School shooting has just had his preliminary hearing.
  22. evidence
    means by which an alleged matter is established or disproved
    The hearing found that there’s enough evidence against him to be put on trial for the murders of teacher Roberta Schneider and young students Julieanne Morris and Devon Smith.
  23. devastating
    physically or spiritually destructive
    That horrific shooting was a devastating blow to this small community—oh!
  24. closure
    something settled or resolved
    She says, We’ll hear more about this story later but isn’t it good that we now have closure?
  25. conclusion
    a final settlement
    I look up Closure and it says: the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event such as the death of loved one.
    Compare this and the previous example sentences with this one: "There’s a solution out there with your name written on it." "Closure," "conclusion" and "solution" are synonymous nouns that describe what Caitlin and her community search for throughout the novel.