showing great kindness toward the distressed
The woman on the bed sank to her knees and buried her face in the quilts and sobbed: “Lord, Lord, have
the lack of knowledge or education
“What’s the matter?” he asked, feigning
an instrument from which a person is executed by hanging
“If you don’t stop running with that gang of yours and do right you’ll end up where you never thought you would. You think I don’t know what you boys is doing, but I do. And the
gallows is at the end of the road you traveling, boy. Just remember that.”
expect, believe, or suppose
reckon I’ll be dead then. I
reckon God’ll call me home.”
a ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
They had the feeling that the robbing of Blum’s would be a violation of ultimate
taboo; it would be a trespassing into territory where the full wrath of an alien white world would be turned loose upon them; in short, it would be a symbolic challenge of the white world’s rule over them; a challenge which they yearned to make, but were afraid to.
deeply or seriously thoughtful
There was in his eyes a
pensive, brooding amusement, as of a man who had been long confronted and tantalized by a riddle whose answer seemed always just on the verge of escaping him, but prodding him irresistibly on to seek its solution.
servile flattery; exaggerated and hypocritical praise
“Yessuh, Mr. Morgan,” Bigger said, his eyes filled with mock
adulation and respect.
force somebody to do something
He hated Gus because he knew that Gus was afraid, as even he was; and he feared Gus because he felt that Gus would consent and then he would be
compelled to go through with the robbery.
remain present although waning or gradually dying
His teeth gritted and the last image he had seen of Gus going through the door
lingered in his mind.
Bigger felt an urgent need to hide his growing and deepening feeling of hysteria; he had to get rid of it or else he would
succumb to it.
flow back or recede
These were the rhythms of his life: indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire; moments of silence and moments of anger—like water
ebbing and flowing from the tug of a far-away, invisible force.
greatly annoyed; out of patience
Bigger paused and looked round the poolroom with a wild and
exasperated expression, his lips tightening with resolution.
a young woman making her debut into society
This little collection of
debutantes represents over four billion dollars of America’s wealth and over fifty of America’s leading families.
reject with contempt
He heard the commentator’s voice: Mary Dalton, daughter of Chicago’s Henry Dalton, 4605 Drexel Boulevard, shocks society by
spurning the boys of La Salle Street and the Gold Coast and accepting the attentions of a well-known radical while on her recent winter vacation in Florida.
to accuse or condemn openly as disgraceful
There was a slow fade-out, while the commentator’s voice ran on: Shortly after a scene like this, shocked Mama and Papa Dalton summoned Mary home by wire from her winter vacation and
denounced her Communist friend.
cause to be more favorably inclined
“Don’t tell the world what we’re trying to do,” Jack whispered in a
yield to; give satisfaction to
That was the way he lived; he passed his days trying to defeat or
gratify powerful impulses in a world he feared.
make timid or fearful
He had not expected anything like this; he had not thought that this world would be so utterly different from his own that it would
against your will
“Yessuh,” he whispered; not speaking, really; but hearing his words roll
involuntarily from his lips.
perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
bewildered; then he saw coming slowly toward him a tall, thin, white woman, walking silently, her hands lifted delicately in the air and touching the walls to either side of her.
an unshakable belief in something without need for proof
There was an organic
conviction in him that this was the way white folks wanted him to be when in their presence; none had ever told him that in so many words, but their manner had made him feel that they did.
look angry or sullen as if to signal disapproval
“No’m,” he mumbled, his head down and his eyes
a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for misfortunes of others
“Oh, yessum,” he said, trying to get into his voice some of the
pity for Mrs. Dalton that he thought Peggy expected him to feel.
cannot be removed or erased
He was still feeling his hand strangely; it seemed that the pressure of Jan’s fingers had left an
Bigger listened to the tone of their voices, to their strange accents, to the
exuberant phrases that flowed so freely from their lips.
He stepped backward, as though she were
contaminated with an invisible contagion.
serve as a means for expressing something
He groped for neutral words, words that would
convey information but not indicate any shade of his own feelings.
flow over or cover completely
The rum’s soft heat was spreading fanwise out from his stomach,
engulfing his whole body.
cause to become awake or conscious
roused herself and looked at him with blank eyes.
secret and sly or sordid
Her lips, faintly moist in the hazy blue light, were parted and he saw the
furtive glints of her white teeth.
not counterfeit or copied
He kissed her again and felt the sharp bones of her hips move in a hard and
incapable of being retracted
As he took his hands from the pillow he heard a long slow sigh go up from the bed into the air of the darkened room, a sigh which afterwards, when he remembered it, seemed final,
hate coupled with disgust
He all but shuddered with the intensity of his
loathing for this house and all it had made him feel since he had first come into it.
something immaterial that interferes with or delays action
Thought and feeling were
balked in him; there was something he was trying to tell himself, desperately, but could not.
quivering as from weakness or fear
Wistfully, he gazed at the edge of the blade resting on the white skin; the gleaming metal reflected the
tremulous fury of the coals.