Before the Story–Part I

An orphan runs away from his guardians to search for a real home. On his journey, he performs feats of athleticism and confronts racial prejudice.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. legacy
    a gift of personal property by will
    And sometimes the girl holding one end of the rope is from the West side of Hector, and the girl on the other end is from the East side; and if you’re looking for Maniac Magee’s legacy, or monument, that’s as good as any — even if it wasn’t really a bull.
  2. legend
    a story about mythical or supernatural beings or events
    But that’s okay, because the history of a kid is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball.
  3. maniac
    an insane person
    Of course, to be accurate, he wasn’t really Maniac then. He was Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lionel Magee.
  4. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    Then the giggling stopped, and eyes started to shift and heads started to turn, because now everybody could see that this wasn’t part of the show at all, that little Jeffrey Magee wasn’t supposed to be up there on the risers, pointing to his aunt and uncle, bellowing out from the midst of the chorus: “Talk! Talk, will ya! Talk! Talk! Talk!”
  5. lunge
    make a thrusting forward movement
    Three springy steps down from the risers — girls in pastel dresses screaming, the music director lunging — a leap from the stage, out the side door and into the starry, sweet, onion-grass-smelling night.
  6. intend
    have in mind as a purpose
    And some say he only intended to pause here but that he stayed because he was so happy to make a friend.
  7. claim
    assert or affirm strongly
    If you listen to everybody who claims to have seen Jeffrey-Maniac Magee that first day, there must have been ten thousand people and a parade of fire trucks waiting for him at the town limits.
  8. hinge
    a joint that holds two parts together so that one can swing
    A couple of people truly remember, and here’s what they saw: a scraggly little kid jogging toward them, the soles of both sneakers hanging by their hinges and flopping open like dog tongues each time they came up from the pavement.
  9. hurl
    throw forcefully
    She tore a book from the suitcase, hurled it at him — “Here!” — and dashed into school.
  10. stunned
    filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise
    It sailed back over the up-looking gym-classers, spiraling more perfectly than anything Brian Denehy had ever thrown, and landed in the outstretched hands of still stunned Hands Down.
  11. commotion
    a disorderly outburst or tumult
    Later on that first day, there was a commotion in the West End.
  12. sacrifice
    the act of killing in order to appease a deity
    So, there’s Arnold Jones, held up by all these hands, flopping and kicking and shrieking like some poor Aztec human sacrifice about to be tossed off a pyramid.
  13. hallucination
    illusory perception
    Another swears it was a mirage, some sort of hallucination, possibly caused by evil emanations surrounding 803 Oriole Street.
  14. carcass
    the dead body of an animal
    The phantom Samaritan stuck the book between his teeth, crouched down, hoisted Arnold Jones’s limp carcass over his shoulder, and hauled him out of there like a sack of flour.
  15. stupefied
    as if struck dumb with astonishment and surprise
    As the stupefied high-schoolers were leaving the scene, they looked back.
  16. forbidden
    excluded from use or mention
    They saw the kid, cool times ten, stretch out on the forbidden steps and open his book to read.
  17. pandemonium
    a state of extreme confusion and disorder
    Pandemonium on the sidelines.
  18. feat
    a notable achievement
    The kid was trying for an inside-the-park home-run bunt — the rarest feat in baseball, something that had hardly ever been done with a ball, and never with a frog — and to be the pitcher who let such a thing happen — well, McNab could already feel his strikeout record fading to a mere grain in the sandlot of history.
  19. lurch
    move abruptly
    But now the frog shot through his legs, over to the mound, and now toward shortstop and now toward second, and McNab was lurching and lunging, throwing his hat at the frog, throwing his glove, and everybody was screaming, and the kid was rounding third and digging for home, and — unbe-froggable! — the “ball” was heading back home too!
  20. intercept
    seize, interrupt, or stop something on its way
    Buzzing about the new kid in town. The stranger kid. Scraggly. Carrying a book. Flap-soled sneakers.
    The kid who intercepted Brian Denehy’s pass to Hands Down and punted it back longer than Denehy himself ever threw it.
  21. fascinated
    having your attention fixated as though by a spell
    Ordinarily, he would have returned it immediately, but he was so fascinated by the story of the Children’s Crusade that he kept it and read it the next day.
  22. pelt
    attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
    yells behind him now, war whoops, stones pelting the water, stinging his back ...
  23. convention
    a large formal assembly
    The Cobras were laughing because they figured the dumb, scraggly runt would get out of the East End in about as good shape as a bare big toe in a convention of snapping turtles.
  24. befuddled
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    Maniac was befuddled. “I don’t know. One minute you’re yelling at me, the next minute you’re giving me a bite of your candy bar.”
  25. glare
    an angry stare
    And when Mars Bar stepped off a curb and combined the glare with his super-slow dip-stride slumpshuffle, well, it was said he could back up traffic all the way to Bridgeport while he took ten minutes to cross the street.
  26. scowl
    frown with displeasure
    Suddenly his world was very small and very simple: a brick wall behind him, a row of scowling faces in front of him.
  27. victim
    an unfortunate person who suffers from adverse circumstances
    In less than five minutes, while Mrs. Beale and Amanda cleaned up the floor, Hester and Lester and their dog Bow Wow were in the backyard wrestling and tickling and jumping and just generally going wild with their new buddy — and victim — Maniac Magee.
  28. apparently
    seemingly; as far as one can tell
    Mr. Beale knew what his passenger apparently didn’t: East End was East End and West End was West End, and the house this white lad was pointing to was filled with black people, just like every other house on up to Hector Street.
  29. quiver
    shake with fast, tremulous movements
    Maniac’s lip started to quiver, and right there, with the car idling in the middle of the street, Maniac told him that he didn’t really have a home, unless you counted the deer shed at the zoo.
  30. converge
    move or draw together at a certain location
    He loved the Fourth of July block party, when the whole East End converged for a day and night of games and music and grilled chicken and ribs and sweet-potato pie and dancing until the last firecracker, and then some.
  31. relief
    the condition of being comfortable or alleviated of distress
    He looked himself over pretty hard and came up with at least seven different shades and colors right on his own skin, not one of them being what he would call white (except for his eyeballs, which weren’t any whiter than the eyeballs of the kids in the East End).
    Which was all a big relief to Maniac, finding out he wasn’t really white, because the way he figured, white was about the most boring color of all.
  32. propel
    cause to move forward with force
    He learned how to jump in front of the gusher and let it propel him halfway across the street.
  33. drench
    cover with liquid; pour liquid onto
    He drenched himself in all the wet and warm and happy.
  34. rant
    talk at length in a noisy, excited, or angry manner
    And the man was croaking, ranting, not to Maniac now but to the people. “What happens when we go over there? Black is black! White is white! The sheep lie not with the lion! The sheep knows his own! His own kind!”
  35. glum
    moody and sorrowful
    This was driving Amanda bonkers. He was acting so different, all glum, and wiseacre answers.
  36. survive
    continue to live through hardship or adversity
    If anybody could survive on the loose, it would be this kid who showed up from Hollidaysburg. Who slept on floors. Who outran dogs.
  37. contortion
    a tortuous and twisted shape or position
    It was made of string, but it had more contortions, ins and outs, twists and turns and dips and doodles than the brain of Albert Einstein himself.
  38. opponent
    someone who offers resistance
    Others say his mouth was more grim than grin, that his eyes lit up like flashbulbs, because he knew he was finally facing a knot that would stand up and fight, a worthy opponent.
  39. spectator
    a close observer; someone who looks at something
    The rest of the spectators watched Maniac poke and tug and pick at the knot.
  40. snarl
    make an angry, sharp, or abrupt noise
    But nobody stepped off a curb, everybody kept moving north, an ugly, snarling black-and-white escort for the kid in the middle.
Created on September 28, 2016 (updated September 24, 2018)

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