Part III

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. solitary
    lacking companions or companionship
    Maniac drifted from hour to hour, day to day, alone with his memories, a stunned and solitary wanderer.
  2. satchel
    luggage consisting of a small case with a flat bottom
    He returned only long enough to pick up a few things: a blanket, some nonperishable food, the glove, and as many books as he could squeeze into the old black satchel that had hauled Grayson’s belongings around the Minor Leagues.
  3. furious
    marked by extreme and violent energy
    But sometimes he would suddenly sprint, furious ten or twenty-second bursts, as though trying to leave himself behind.
  4. careen
    move sideways or in an unsteady way
    Even so, in his mind’s eye he saw the red and yellow trolley careening from the high track, plunging to the water, killing his parents over and over.
  5. endure
    continue to live through hardship or adversity
    He would retrieve the satchel from wherever he had stashed it and find a place to endure the night.
  6. abandoned
    forsaken by owner or inhabitants
    Other times his overnight quarters might be an abandoned car, an empty garage, a basement stairwell.
  7. supply
    an amount of something available for use
    When his original supply of food ran out, he fed himself at the zoo or at the soup kitchen down at the Salvation Army.
  8. desolation
    a bleak atmosphere
    Here the Continental Army had suffered through a winter of their own, and the vast, stark, frozen desolation itself seemed a more proper monument than statues and stones.
  9. beseech
    ask for or request earnestly
    Dreams pursued memories, courted and danced and coupled with them and they became one, and the gaunt, beseeching phantoms that called to him had the rag-wrapped feet of Washington’s regulars and the faces of his mother and father and Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan and the Beales and Earl Grayson.
  10. retaliate
    make a counterattack and return like for like
    Screecher retaliated, and Maniac had to step back while a two-kid tornado swirled around the cabin.
  11. lambaste
    censure severely or angrily
    Then the brothers had to do some more trembling and clinging while John finished lambasting them for running away, which apparently they did about every other week.
  12. refer
    use a name to designate
    Really little kids referred to him as “Mr. Maniac.”
  13. amazement
    the feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising
    To the utter amazement of all, when Russell finally croaked, “Time,” Maniac Magee was still there, alive, smiling, apparently unharmed.
  14. nonchalant
    marked by casual unconcern or indifference
    He took off his sneaks and socks and walked — nonchalant as you please — through the rat-infested dump at the foot of Rako Hill.
  15. scoff
    laugh at with contempt and derision
    He climbed the fence at the American bison pen at the zoo — he had suggested this feat himself, everyone else scoffing — and, while the mother looked on, kissed the baby buffalo.
  16. glory
    a state of high honor
    As for Maniac, he understood early on that he was being used for the greater glory of Piper and Russell.
  17. perilous
    fraught with danger
    And then one day they gave him the most perilous challenge of all.
  18. forlorn
    marked by or showing hopelessness
    Forlorn, marooned on concrete and asphalt, no place to burrow, April’s orphans.
  19. consequence
    the outcome of an event
    But there were other considerations: whom he was racing against, and where, and what the consequences might be if he won.
  20. hysterical
    marked by excessive or uncontrollable emotion
    These were heavy considerations, heavy enough to slow him down — until the hysterical crowd and the sight of Mars Bar’s sneaker bottoms and the boiling of his own blood ignited his afterburners, and before you could say, “Burn ’im, Magee!” he was ahead, the pink thread bobbing in his sights.
  21. exuberance
    joyful enthusiasm
    His only recollection was a feeling of sheer, joyful exuberance, himself in celebration: shouting “A-men!” in the Bethany Church, bashing John McNab’s fastballs out of sight, dancing the polka with Grayson.
  22. reprisal
    a retaliatory action against an enemy in wartime
    Maniac kept moving, embarrassed, wishing he could just break out and sprint for the West End, wishing he could duck into the Beales’ house and be sanctuaried there and not fear reprisals on them — and just about then, miraculously, two little hands were worming into his, two familiar voices squealing, “Maniac! Maniac!”
  23. ludicrous
    inviting ridicule
    In spite of their twisted, ludicrous impressions of East Enders, the concern and the tears in their eyes had been genuine.
  24. revolt
    rise up against an authority
    “What’s gonna happen is, one of these days they’re gonna revolt.”
  25. barricade
    a barrier to impede the advance of an enemy
    Maniac tried to picture Amanda and Hester and Lester and Bow Wow storming the barricades.
  26. maraud
    raid and rove in search of plunder
    And he told Maniac what he often imagined, lying in bed: the blacks sweeping across Hector one steaming summer night; torches, chains, blades, guns, war cries; marauding, looting, overrunning the West End; climbing in through smashed windows, doors, looking for whites, bloodthirsty for whites, like Indians in the old days, Indians on a raid.
  27. barrier
    anything maintaining separation by obstructing access
    So easily he could picture the Beales’ brown faces around this dinner table, and the little Pickwell kids’ white bodies in the bathtub at 728 Sycamore. Whoever had made of Hector Street a barrier, it was surely not these people.
  28. shenanigan
    reckless or malicious behavior that causes annoyance
    He took them to the library, then scrapped that idea after their shenanigans left the librarian blubbering and blue-faced.
  29. frenzied
    affected with or marked by mania uncontrolled by reason
    One day he heard frenzied horn-honking and screaming.
  30. chaotic
    completely unordered and unpredictable and confusing
    It was a maddening, chaotic time for Maniac.
  31. zany
    ludicrous or foolish
    Running in the mornings and reading in the afternoons gave him just enough stability to endure the zany nights at the McNabs’.
  32. ignorant
    unaware because of a lack of relevant information
    Whites never go inside blacks’ homes. Much less inside their thoughts and feelings. And blacks are just as ignorant of whites.
  33. clench
    squeeze together tightly
    Mars Bar allowed himself to be dragged into them, but his jaw was clenched and his eyes kept straying to the gaping hole in the ceiling — and to the Cobras, who were slouching against the walls and baseboards, sipping beers and watching his every move.
  34. gauntlet
    a form of punishment with two lines of men facing each other
    The Cobras stayed, and Maniac, clamping the struggling Mars Bar for dear life, lugged him down a gauntlet of seething eyes to the door and the street.
  35. random
    lacking any definite plan or order or purpose
    This was the first in a series of apparently random mergings.
  36. stride
    a step in walking or running
    Stride for stride, shoulder to shoulder, breath for breath, till they were matching on all points, a harnessed pair, two runners become one.
  37. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    He shrieked and babbled at them, but he made no sense, so they just followed as he raced frantically back up the street.
  38. pry
    move or force in an effort to get something open
    “Even when we got off, the midget wouldn’t let me go. ‘We’re off it,’ I says to him. ‘You’re rescued.’ But all he does is grab me harder, like he’s a octopus or somethin’. Off the platform, down the steps, out to the street — he’s still doin’ it. I couldn’t pry him off nohow.”
  39. wrench
    twist or pull violently or suddenly
    But the voice of the buffalo was the voice of Amanda Beale, and its teeth were her fingers pulling and wrenching his poor ear till he was sitting upright.
  40. content
    satisfied or showing satisfaction with things as they are
    He was quite content to let Amanda do the talking, for he knew that behind her grumbling was all that he had ever wanted.
Created on September 28, 2016 (updated September 24, 2018)

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