An Excerpt from "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead's reimagining of African-American history, The Underground Railroad, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction on April 10, 2017. The novel had previously won the National Book Award this year as well. Even in the vocabulary from this small excerpt the reader gets a sense of Whitehead's vision and the care with which he portrays his characters. Here are 17 words from an excerpt from "The Underground Railroad".
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definitions & notes only words
  1. exponential
    involving a quantity being multiplied by itself
    Chained head to toe, head to toe, in exponential misery.
  2. stymie
    hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
    The sailors stymied her both times, versed in the schemes and inclinations of chattel.
  3. hankering
    a yearning for something or to do something
    Her first husband developed a hankering for corn whiskey and started using his big hands to make big fists.
  4. simper
    a silly self-conscious smile
    Her simpering posture and piteous aspect, recognizable from thousands of slaves before her, betrayed her intentions.
  5. froth
    become bubbly or foaming
    A young buck from strong tribal stock got customers into a froth.
  6. glut
    supply with an excess of
    She would have fetched more but for that sea- son’s glut of young girls.
  7. noxious
    injurious to physical or mental health
    The noxious air of the hold, the gloom of confinement, and the screams of those shackled to her contrived to drive Ajarry to madness.
  8. chattel
    personal as opposed to real property
    The sailors stymied her both times, versed in the schemes and inclinations of chattel.
  9. disparate
    fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind
    Masters and mistresses in degrees of wickedness, estates of disparate means and ambition.
  10. renowned
    widely known and esteemed
    There was a bidding war over a group of Ashanti studs, those Africans of renowned industry and musculature, and the foreman of a lime- stone quarry bought a bunch of pickaninnies in an astounding bargain.
  11. piteous
    deserving or inciting a feeling of sympathy and sorrow
    Her simpering posture and piteous aspect, recognizable from thousands of slaves before her, betrayed her intentions.
  12. relinquish
    turn away from; give up
    A broken calabash was worth less than one that held its water, a hook that kept its catfish more prized than one that relinquished its bait.
  13. fetter
    restrain with shackles
    She was branded, not for the first or last time, and fettered to the rest of the day’s acquisitions.
  14. stagger
    to arrange in a systematic order
    The captain staggered his purchases, rather than find himself with cargo of singular culture and disposition.
  15. salvation
    rescuing or protecting someone or something from harm
    She enjoyed the stories and parables and supposed that white men had a point: Talk of salvation could give an African ideas.
  16. magistrate
    a lay judge or civil authority who administers the law
    The diagrams were convincing, but in the end Ajarry was another asset liquidated by order of the magistrate.
  17. disposition
    your usual mood
    The captain staggered his purchases, rather than find himself with cargo of singular culture and disposition.

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