an animal that has wandered off
The creator and sovereign of this enormous house with the four sickle-pear trees in the front yard and the single elm in the back yard was Eva Peace, who sat in a wagon on the third floor directing the lives of her children, friends,
strays, and a constant stream of boarders.
In this particular usage, "stray" doesn't just mean animals -- it's being used metaphorically to refer to people who have wandered away and don't belong anywhere in particular
the muscular back part of the shank
Her dresses were mid-
calf so that her one glamorous leg was always in view as well as the long fall of space below her left thigh.
spring back; spring away from an impact
Plum stopped crying as the black hard stools
ricocheted onto the frozen ground.
let for money
First she reclaimed her children, next she gave the surprised Mrs. Suggs a ten-dollar bill, later she started building a house on Carpenter’s Road, sixty feet from BoyBoy’s one-room cabin, which she
His shoes were a
shiny orange, and he had on a citified straw hat, a light-blue suit, and a cat’s-head stickpin in his tie.
motion of hands or body to emphasize a thought or feeling
He swept his hat off with a satisfied
a report about the behavior of other people
Their conversation was easy: she catching him up on all the
gossip, he asking about this one and that one, and like everybody else avoiding any reference to her leg.
disadvantage by bias
Operating on a private scheme of preference and
prejudice, she sent off for children she had seen from the balcony of her bedroom or whose circumstances she had heard about from the gossipy old men who came to play checkers or read the Courier, or write her number.
to the full or entire extent
Stouthearted, surly, and
wholly unpredictable, the deweys remained a mystery not only during all of their lives in Medallion but after as well.
leave or give, especially by will after one's death
It was manlove that Eva
bequeathed to her daughters.
Again, the word is being used metaphorically -- it's not literally in her will.
When he heard it, the man tipped his hat down a little over his eyes,
hoisted his trousers and thought about the hollow place at the base of her neck.
When those places were not available, she would slip into the
seldom-used parlor, or even up to her bedroom.
laugh quietly or with restraint
chuckled as though he had heard some private joke.
make apparent by one's mood or behavior
Talking about his appointments and
exuding an odor of new money and idleness, he danced down the steps and strutted toward the pea-green dress.
silky envelope spun by the larvae of many insects
Slowly each boy came out of whatever
cocoon he was in at the time his mother or somebody gave him away, and accepted Eva’s view, becoming in fact as well as in name a dewey—joining with the other two to become a trinity with a plural name ... inseparable, loving nothing and no one but themselves.
This is a figurative use of "cocoon."
a behavioral attribute peculiar to an individual
Under Eva’s distant eye, and prey to her
idiosyncrasies, her own children grew up stealthily: Pearl married at fourteen and moved to Flint, Michigan, from where she posted frail letters to her mother with two dollars folded into the writing paper.
free of deceit
Her flirting was sweet, low and
act of ascertaining or fixing the value or worth of
The people either accepted his own
evaluation of his life, or were indifferent to it.
a distinctive odor that is offensively unpleasant
Deep in its darkness and freezing
stench she squatted down, turned the baby over on her knees, exposed his buttocks and shoved the last bit of food she had in the world (besides three beets) up his ass.
flow over or cover completely
Quickly, as the whoosh of flames
engulfed him, she shut the door and made her slow and painful journey back to the top of the house.