Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" Chapters 1-5

Vocabulary study list for Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (Chapters 1-5).
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. invisibility
    the quality of not being perceivable by the eye
    Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of a bio-chemical accident to my epidermis.
  2. nauseate
    upset and make ill
    I closed my ears and swallowed blood until I was nauseated.
  3. catharsis
    purging the body to stimulate evacuation of the bowels
    Her catharsis is absolutely tremendous--ha, ha!"
  4. undulate
    move in a wavy pattern or with a rising and falling motion
    He was a large man who wore diamond studs in a shirtfront which swelled with the ample paunch underneath, and each time the blonde swayed her undulating hips he ran his hand through the thin hair of his bald head and, with his arms upheld, his post
  5. perforate
    make a hole into or between, as for ease of separation
    You would be canceled, perforated, voided, become the recognized magnet attracting loose screws.
  6. gesticulate
    show, express, or direct through movement
    The men continued to ignore him, walking along in a mass, some talking in groups and others talking and gesticulating to themselves.
  7. unambiguous
    having or exhibiting a single clearly defined meaning
    And in the chapel on Sunday evenings upon the platform, hadn't he always taught us to live content in our place in a thousand unambiguous words?
  8. reminisce
    recall the past
    But now I felt that I was sharing in a great work and, with the car leaping leisurely beneath the pressure of my foot, I identified myself with the rich man reminiscing on the rear seat .
  9. nexus
    the means of connection between things linked in series
    And I move more rigid than all the others with a sense of judgment; the vibrations of the chapel bells stirring the depths of my turmoil, moving toward its nexus with a sense of doom.
  10. thematic
    relating to or constituting a topic of discourse
    Ha! Miss Susie, Miss Susie Gresham, back there looking at that co-ed smiling at that he-ed--listen to me, the bungling bugler of words, imitating the trumpet and the trombone's timbre, playing thematic variations like a baritone horn.
  11. corrode
    cause to deteriorate due to water, air, or an acid
    If real, why is it that I can recall in all that island of greenness no fountain but one that was broken, corroded and dry?
  12. visualized
    seen in the mind as a mental image
    In those pre-invisible days I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington.
  13. crumple
    gather something into small wrinkles or folds
    I saw the rug covered with coins of all dimensions and a few crumpled bills.
  14. ambivalence
    mixed feelings or emotions
    "I too have become acquainted with ambivalence," I said.
  15. bungle
    make a mess of, destroy, or ruin
    Ha! Miss Susie, Miss Susie Gresham, back there looking at that co-ed smiling at that he-ed--listen to me, the bungling bugler of words, imitating the trumpet and the trombone's timbre, playing thematic variations like a baritone horn.
  16. amaze
    affect with wonder
    I followed his eyes and was amazed to see the varied expressions on the patients' faces as they silently returned his gaze.
  17. lectern
    desk or stand with a slanted top used to hold a text
    Someone up there, above the alternating moss-dry and grease-slick heads of the students rowed before me, was making announcements from a lectern on which a dim light shone.
  18. sublimate
    change directly from a solid into a vapor without melting
    I saw the guests on the platform turn to look behind them, to see the thin brown girl in white choir robe standing high against the organ pipes, herself become before our eyes a pipe of contained, controlled and sublimated anguish, a thin plain fac
  19. timbre
    the distinctive property of a complex sound
    And at that point a voice of trombone timbre screamed at me, "Git out of, here, you fool!
  20. yokel
    a person who is not intelligent or interested in culture
    Once I saw a prizefighter boxing a yokel.
  21. inflate
    fill with gas or air
    The flesh above his right eye jumped out as though it had been inflated.
  22. amorphous
    having no definite form or distinct shape
    To you he is a mark on the score-card of your achievement, a thing and not a man; a child, or even less--a black amorphous thing.
  23. suffocate
    deprive of oxygen and prevent from breathing
    He held me in a grip like cold stone, his fingers fastening upon my windpipe until I thought I would suffocate before he finally allowed me to go.
  24. pragmatist
    an adherent of a theory of observable practical consequences
    He believes in that great false wisdom taught slaves and pragmatists alike, that white is right.
  25. memorize
    learn by heart
    All had to be said, each memorized nuance considered, rendered.
  26. agape
    with the mouth wide open as in wonder or awe
    Trueblood's mouth fell agape, his eyes widened and filled with moisture as he took the bill between trembling fingers.
  27. figment
    a contrived or fantastic idea
    When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me.
  28. cringe
    draw back, as with fear, pain, or embarrassment
    Some were hostile, some cringing, some horrified; some, who when among themselves were most violent, now appeared as submissive as children.
  29. imbibe
    take in liquids
    And I remember too, how we confronted those others, those who had set me here in this Eden, whom we knew though we didn't know, who were unfamiliar in their familiarity, who trailed their words to us through blood and violence and ridicule and condescensi
  30. rococo
    having excessive asymmetrical ornamentation
    We were led out of the elevator through a rococo hall into an anteroom and told to get into our fighting togs.
  31. underestimate
    make too low an approximation of
    And like him I say, and in his words, 'To those of my race who depend upon bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is his next-door neighbor
  32. trudge
    walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
    I remembered the legend of how he had come to the college, a barefoot boy who in his fervor for education had trudged with his bundle of ragged clothing across two states.
  33. cryptic
    having a secret or hidden meaning
    Above the decorous walking around me, sounds of footsteps leaving the verandas of far-flung buildings and moving toward the walks and over the walks to the asphalt drives lined with whitewashed stones, those cryptic messages for men and women, boys
  34. traumatic
    psychologically painful
    Two men stood directly in front of me, one speaking with intense earnestness. ". . . and Johnson hit Jeffries at an angle of 45 degrees from his lower left lateral incisor, producing an instantaneous blocking of his entire thalamic rine, frosting it over
  35. fumble
    feel about uncertainly or blindly
    Seeing their fingers coming toward me I rolled away as a fumbled football rolls off the receiver's fingertips, back into the coals.
  36. aquarium
    a tank or pool filled with water for keeping live fish
    Before a great window stood a large aquarium containing colored stones and a small replica of a feudal castle surrounded by goldfish that seemed to remain motionless despite the fluttering of their lacy fins, a momentary motionful suspension of tim
  37. inhibition
    the action of forbidding
    I didn't like it, for when he was upstairs they had absolutely no inhibitions.
  38. converge
    be adjacent or come together
    And I stand in the circle where three roads converge near the statue, where we drilled four-abreast down the smooth asphalt and pivoted and entered the chapel on Sundays, our uniforms pressed, shoes shined, minds laced up, eyes blind like those of
  39. bilious
    relating to a digestive juice secreted by the liver
    A beautiful girl once told me of a recurring nightmare in which she lay in the center of a large dark room and felt her face expand until it filled the whole room, becoming a formless mass while her eyes ran in bilious jelly up the chimney.
  40. paralyze
    cause to be immobile
    I was just like a jaybird that the yellow jackets done stung 'til he's paralyzed--but still alive in his eyes and he's watchin' 'em sting his body to death.
  41. demented
    affected with madness or insanity
    And you hurried with him full of doubt to the cabin designated by the stranger, where he met that seemingly demented black man .
  42. cog
    tooth on the rim of gear wheel
    You are important because if you fail I have failed by one individual, one defective cog; it didn't matter so much before, but now I'm growing old and it has become very important .
  43. alchemy
    a pseudoscientific forerunner of chemistry in medieval times
    I'm convinced it was the product of a subtle magic, the alchemy of moonlight; the school a flower-studded wasteland, the rocks sunken, the dry winds hidden, the lost crickets chirping to yellow butterflies.
  44. staccato
    separating the notes; in music
    And there on the platform I too had stridden and debated, a student leader directing my voice at the highest beams and farthest rafters, ringing them, the accents staccato upon the ridgepole and echoing back with a tinkling, like words hurled to th
  45. nuance
    a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
    All had to be said, each memorized nuance considered, rendered.
  46. contortion
    a tortuous and twisted shape or position
    Laughing in fear and embarrassment, some were holding back and scooping up the coins knocked off by the painful contortions of the others.
  47. fallacious
    containing or based on incorrect reasoning
    I gave up all that, along with my apartment, and my old way of life: That way based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible.
  48. complicate
    make less simple
    Sometimes it appeared as though they played some vast and complicated game with me and the rest of the school folk, a game whose goal was laughter and whose rules and subtleties I could never grasp.
  49. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    My muscles jumped, my nerves jangled, writhed.
  50. translucent
    allowing light to pass through diffusely
    Five pale red lines bloomed on the white cheek, glowing like fire beneath translucent stone.
  51. automaton
    a mechanism that can move independently of external control
    And the boy, this automaton, he was made of the very mud of the region and he sees far less than you.
  52. fascinate
    attract; cause to be enamored
    It was a face that fascinated me.
  53. coma
    a state of deep and often prolonged unconsciousness
    I'm sure you have heard of his precarious infancy, his precious life almost destroyed by an insane cousin who splashed the babe with lye and shriveled his seed and how, a mere babe, he lay nine days in a deathlike coma and then suddenly and miracul
  54. intercede
    act between parties with a view to reconciling differences
    I wondered to which of them I might go to intercede for me with Dr. Bledsoe, but within myself I knew that there was no one.
  55. melee
    a noisy riotous fight
    I played one group against the other, slipping in and throwing a punch then stepping out of range while pushing the others into the melee to take the blows blindly aimed at me.
  56. replica
    copy that is not the original
    Before a great window stood a large aquarium containing colored stones and a small replica of a feudal castle surrounded by goldfish that seemed to remain motionless despite the fluttering of their lacy fins, a momentary motionful suspension of tim
  57. topple
    fall down, as if collapsing
    I feared the rug more than I did the drunk, so I held on, surprising myself for a moment by trying to topple him upon the rug.
  58. autonomous
    existing as an independent entity
    Two men stood directly in front of me, one speaking with intense earnestness. ". . . and Johnson hit Jeffries at an angle of 45 degrees from his lower left lateral incisor, producing an instantaneous blocking of his entire thalamic rine, frosting it over
  59. strident
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    KATE--Lawd, Kate, NAW!!!' "
    Suddenly his voice was so strident that I looked up startled.
  60. intimidate
    to compel or deter by or as if by threats
    And I remember too, how we confronted those others, those who had set me here in this Eden, whom we knew though we didn't know, who were unfamiliar in their familiarity, who trailed their words to us through blood and violence and ridicule and condescensi
  61. cistern
    a sac or cavity containing fluid
    Why do I recall, instead of the odor of seed bursting in springtime, only the yellow contents of the cistern spread over the lawn's dead grass?
  62. inhibit
    limit the range or extent of
    But to hear around them is too much; it inhibits action.
  63. apoplexy
    a loss of consciousness from the lack of oxygen in the brain
    But not yet, the men on the other side were waiting, red faces swollen as though from apoplexy as they bent forward in their chairs.
  64. analytical
    using or skilled in using reasoning
    So under the spell of the reefer I discovered a new analytical way of listening to music.
  65. hoax
    something intended to deceive
    Those two spots are among the darkest of our whole civilization--pardon me, our whole culture (an important distinction, I've heard)--which might sound like a hoax, or a contradiction, but that (by contradiction, I mean) is how the world moves: Not
  66. inkling
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
    And recall how during his journey he was stopped by the strange figure of a man whose pitted features revealed no inkling of whether he was black or white .
  67. hectic
    marked by intense activity or agitation
    For one thing, the trumpet was blaring and the rhythm was too hectic.
  68. titter
    laugh nervously
    A woman tittered.
  69. overt
    open and observable; not secret or hidden
    Please, a definition: A hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.
  70. lank
    long and thin and often limp
    A large flag hung lank above the floor.
  71. professionally
    in a professional manner
    I watched the fat man bend over him very professionally and feel for his pulse.
  72. dapper
    marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
    His manner was aristocratic, his movements dapper and suave.
  73. distend
    cause to expand as it by internal pressure
    "You see," he said turning to Mr. Norton, "he has eyes and ears and a good distended African nose, but he fails to understand the simple facts of life.
  74. scuffle
    fight or struggle in a confused way at close quarters
    And I heard the bell clang and the sound of the feet scuffling forward.
  75. vibrant
    vigorous and animated
    I remember the yellowed globes of frosted glass making lacy silhouettes on the gravel and the walk of the leaves and branches above us as we moved slow through the dusk so restless with scents of lilac, honeysuckle and verbena, and the feel of spring gree
  76. sabotage
    a deliberate act of destruction or disruption
    An act of sabotage, you know.
  77. gingerly
    in a manner marked by extreme care or delicacy
    In the mirror I saw him dabbing gingerly at his forehead with a crinkled handkerchief.
  78. nostalgia
    longing for something past
    " Nostalgia," the vet said.
  79. insinuate
    suggest in an indirect or covert way; give to understand
    He was the largest of the group, wearing dark red fighting trunks much too small to conceal the erection which projected from him as though in answer to the insinuating low-registered moaning of the clarinet.
  80. tempo
    the speed at which a composition is to be played
    And beneath the swiftness of the hot tempo there was a slower tempo and a cave and I entered it and looked around and heard an old woman singing a spiritual as full of Weltschmerz as flamenco, and beneath that lay a still lower level on which I saw
  81. detract
    take away a part from; diminish
    And besides, I suspected that fighting a battle royal might detract from the dignity of my speech.
  82. ambiguity
    unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning
    And as I gaze, there is a rustle of wings and I see a flock of starlings flighting before me and, when I look again, the bronze face, whose empty eyes look upon a world I have never seen, runs with liquid chalk--creating another ambiguity to puzzle
  83. electrify
    equip for use with charged energy
    The rug was electrified.
  84. pallet
    a hand tool with a flat blade for mixing and shaping clay
    I'm lookin' up at her from where I'm layin' on the pallet with Matty Lou, and I'm too weak to move.
  85. earthy
    of or consisting of or resembling the soil
    We were embarrassed by the earthy harmonies they sang, but since the visitors were awed we dared not laugh at the crude, high, plaintively animal sounds Jim Trueblood made as he led the quartet.
  86. baffle
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    She looked surprised, then thoughtful, then baffled.
  87. illuminate
    make lighter or brighter
    I've illuminated the blackness of my invisibility--and vice versa.
  88. silky
    having a smooth, gleaming surface reflecting light
    She got on a nightgown of soft white silky stuff and nothin' else, and she looks straight at me.
  89. pucker
    gather something into small wrinkles or folds
    But the blindfold was as tight as a thick skin- puckering scab and when I raised my gloved hands to push the layers of white aside a voice yelled, "Oh, no you don't, black bastard!
  90. unaided
    carried out without assistance
    When I returned, Mr. Norton was sitting up unaided, carrying on a conversation with the vet.
  91. alternating
    occurring by turns; first one and then the other
    Someone up there, above the alternating moss-dry and grease-slick heads of the students rowed before me, was making announcements from a lectern on which a dim light shone.
  92. ignore
    refuse to acknowledge
    Most of the time (although I do not choose as I once did to deny the violence of my days by ignoring it) I am not so overtly violent.
  93. portly
    fairly fat
    The honored guests moved silently upon the platform, herded toward their high, carved chairs by Dr. Bledsoe with the decorum of a portly head waiter.
  94. bounce
    spring back; spring away from an impact
    For a moment the world wavered, unraveled, flowed, then my head cleared and Tatlock bounced before me.
  95. suave
    having a sophisticated charm
    His manner was aristocratic, his movements dapper and suave.
  96. loll
    be lazy or idle
    Mr. Norton's head lolled upon his chest as though he were drunk or dead.
  97. define
    show the form or outline of
    And what puzzled me was that the old man had defined it as treachery.
  98. flimsy
    a thin strong lightweight translucent paper
    I know now that it was the flowing costume of soft, flimsy material that made for the effect; today, dressed in one of the smart, well-tailored, angular, sterile, streamlined, engine-turned, air-conditioned modern outfits you see in the women's mag
  99. imperceptible
    impossible or difficult to sense
    Instead of the swift and imperceptible flowing of time, you are aware of its nodes, those points where time stands still or from which it leaps ahead.
  100. initiate
    set in motion, start an event or prepare the way for
    And you recall how you plunged with the Founder, the Leader, deep into the black art of escape, guided at first, indeed, initiated, by the seemingly demented one who had learned his craft in slavery.
  101. frenzy
    state of violent mental agitation
    I kicked him repeatedly, in a frenzy because he still uttered insults though his lips were frothy with blood.
  102. affirmation
    the act of asserting or stating something
    It was my affirmation of life and they couldn't send me away for something I didn't do.
  103. energetically
    in an energetic manner
    Up ahead I saw the one who thought he was a drum major strutting in front, giving orders as he moved energetically in long, hip-swinging strides, a cane held above his head, rising and falling as though in time to music.
  104. rampant
    occurring or increasing in an unrestrained way
    "The clocks are all set back and the forces of destruction are rampant down below.
  105. sniff
    perceive by inhaling through the nose
    He sniffed it, closed his eyes as in puzzlement, then drank; his cheeks filled out like small bellows; he was rinsing his mouth.
  106. inflated
    enlarged beyond truth or reasonableness
    The flesh above his right eye jumped out as though it had been inflated.
  107. wry
    humorously sarcastic or mocking
    I saw the man's face relax as he gave me a wry smile.
  108. blurt
    utter impulsively
    "You have survived," he blurted.
  109. blare
    make a loud noise
    For one thing, the trumpet was blaring and the rhythm was too hectic.
  110. shirk
    avoid one's assigned duties
    But I shirked that responsibility; I became too snarled in the incompatible notions that buzzed within my brain.
  111. thrifty
    mindful of the future in spending money
    I would do his bidding and teach others to rise up as he wished them to, teach them to be thrifty, decent, upright citizens, contributing to the welfare of all, shunning all but the straight and narrow path that he and the Founder had stretched bef
  112. bristle
    a stiff hair
    The hair bristled up on my head as I shook myself free.
  113. stagnant
    not growing or changing; without force or vitality
    And I stand as for an answer and see in my mind's eye the cabins surrounded by empty fields beyond red clay roads, and beyond a certain road a river, sluggish and covered with algae more yellow than green in its stagnant stillness; past more empty
  114. ethereal
    characterized by lightness and insubstantiality
    I could not understand the words, but only the mood, sorrowful, vague and ethereal, of the singing.
  115. angular
    having the shape of intersecting lines or planes
    I know now that it was the flowing costume of soft, flimsy material that made for the effect; today, dressed in one of the smart, well-tailored, angular, sterile, streamlined, engine-turned, air-conditioned modern outfits you see in the women's mag
  116. brakes
    a device that works to slow a motor vehicle
    He held his ground, his legs braced, hands on hips, and to keep from hitting him I slammed on the brakes.
  117. caption
    brief description accompanying an illustration
    The next day I saw his picture in the Daily News, beneath a caption stating that he had been "mugged."
  118. pivot
    axis consisting of a shaft supporting something that turns
    I pivoted, striking out stiffly as someone went past, and felt the jar ripple along the length of my arm to my shoulder.
  119. sonorous
    full and loud and deep
    And then it is suddenly winter, with the moon high above and the chimes in the steeple ringing and a sonorous choir of trombones rendering a Christmas carol; and over all is a quietness and an ache as though all the world were loneliness.
  120. confuse
    mistake one thing for another
    "A mistake was made somewhere," I said, "I'm confused."
  121. releasing
    emotionally purging (of e.g. art)
    "Whew!" he said, releasing the white man and shaking his huge head.
  122. ultimatum
    a final peremptory demand
    An ultimatum accepted and ritualized, an allegiance recited for the peace it imparted, and for that perhaps loved.
  123. unison
    the state of corresponding exactly
    "The Golden Day," said several patients in unison.
  124. lateral
    situated at or extending to the side
    Two men stood directly in front of me, one speaking with intense earnestness. ". . . and Johnson hit Jeffries at an angle of 45 degrees from his lower left lateral incisor, producing an instantaneous blocking of his entire thalamic rine, frosting i
  125. stolid
    having or revealing little emotion or sensibility
    I stood beneath his photograph with my brief case in hand and smiled triumphantly into his stolid black peasant's face.
  126. somber
    grave or even gloomy in character
    I remember the yellowed globes of frosted glass making lacy silhouettes on the gravel and the walk of the leaves and branches above us as we moved slow through the dusk so restless with scents of lilac, honeysuckle and verbena, and the feel of spring gree
  127. millennium
    a span of 1000 years
    This was our world, they said as they described it to us, this our horizon and its earth, its seasons and its climate, its spring and its summer, and its fall and harvest some unknown millennium ahead; and these its floods and cyclones and they the
  128. furtive
    secret and sly or sordid
    And I remember too, how we confronted those others, those who had set me here in this Eden, whom we knew though we didn't know, who were unfamiliar in their familiarity, who trailed their words to us through blood and violence and ridicule and condescensi
  129. lucid
    transparently clear; easily understandable
    And my mind rushing for relief away from the spring dusk and flower scents, away from the time-scene of the crucifixion to the time-mood of the birth; from spring-dusk and vespers to the high, clear, lucid moon of winter and snow glinting upon the
  130. decorum
    propriety in manners and conduct
    The honored guests moved silently upon the platform, herded toward their high, carved chairs by Dr. Bledsoe with the decorum of a portly head waiter.
  131. irrational
    not consistent with or using reason
    I felt a wave of irrational guilt and fear.
  132. humanitarian
    marked by devotion to popular welfare
    Hester is a great humanitarian, a therapist of generous nature and great skill, and the possessor of a healing touch.
  133. frenzied
    affected with or marked by mania uncontrolled by reason
    Suddenly I saw a boy lifted into the air, glistening with sweat like a circus seal, and dropped, his wet back landing flush upon the charged rug, heard him yell and saw him literally dance upon his back, elbows beating a frenzied tattoo upon the fl
  134. submissive
    inclined or willing to give in to orders or wishes of others
    Some were hostile, some cringing, some horrified; some, who when among themselves were most violent, now appeared as submissive as children.
  135. reassure
    cause to feel confident
    I left somewhat reassured, but not completely.
  136. livid
    furiously angry
    In the mirror I could see Mr. Norton staring out vacantly upon the empty fields, his mouth stern, his white forehead livid where it had scraped the screen.
  137. philanthropist
    someone who makes charitable donations
    A Bostonian, smoker of cigars, teller of polite Negro stories, shrewd banker, skilled scientist, director, philanthropist, forty years a bearer of the white man's burden, and for sixty a symbol of the Great Traditions.
  138. benign
    kind in disposition or manner
    Above a spacious fireplace an oil portrait of the Founder looked down at me remotely, benign, sad, and in that hot instant, profoundly disillusioned.
  139. connoisseur
    an expert able to appreciate a field
    Hey! old connoisseur of voice sounds, of voices without messages, of newsless winds, listen to the vowel sounds and the crackling dentals, to the low harsh gutturals of empty anguish, now riding the curve of a preacher's rhythm I heard long ago in
  140. scald
    burn with a hot liquid or steam
    Then all at once I was right up with it and it burst like a great big electric light in my eyes and scalded me all over.
  141. unravel
    become or cause to become undone by separating the fibers of
    For a moment the world wavered, unraveled, flowed, then my head cleared and Tatlock bounced before me.
  142. imagery
    the ability to form mental pictures of things or events
    Hey! old connoisseur of voice sounds, of voices without messages, of newsless winds, listen to the vowel sounds and the crackling dentals, to the low harsh gutturals of empty anguish, now riding the curve of a preacher's rhythm I heard long ago in a Bapti
  143. undermine
    weaken or impair, especially gradually
    I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open."
  144. evade
    avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing
    "It is an issue which I can confront only by evading it.
  145. fastidious
    giving careful attention to detail
    It was a dream fall, my body languid and fastidious as to where to land, until the floor became impatient and smashed up to meet me.
  146. predicament
    an unpleasant or difficult situation
    My predicament struck me like a stab.
  147. speculate
    reflect deeply on a subject
    The other boys ignored me as they congratulated Tatlock and speculated as to how much they would be paid.
  148. sprinkle
    scatter with liquid; wet lightly
    Two men stood directly in front of me, one speaking with intense earnestness. ". . . and Johnson hit Jeffries at an angle of 45 degrees from his lower left lateral incisor, producing an instantaneous blocking of his entire thalamic rine, frosting it over
  149. stumble
    miss a step and fall or nearly fall
    I stumbled about dazed, the music beating hysterically in my ears.
  150. shimmer
    shine with a weak or fitful light
    Heat rays from the late afternoon sun arose from the gray concrete, shimmering like the weary tones of a distant bugle blown upon still midnight air.
  151. sensuous
    taking delight in beauty
    And then she began to dance, a slow sensuous movement; the smoke of a hundred cigars clinging to her like the thinnest of veils.
  152. incompatible
    not in harmonious or agreeable combination
    But I shirked that responsibility; I became too snarled in the incompatible notions that buzzed within my brain.
  153. cascade
    a small waterfall or series of small waterfalls
    A high cascade of sound bubbled from the organ, spreading, thick and clinging, over the chapel, slowly surging.
  154. purge
    rid of impurities
    And here, sitting rigid, I remember the evenings spent before the sweeping platform in awe and in pleasure, and in the pleasure of awe; remember the short formal sermons intoned from the pulpit there, rendered in smooth articulate tones, with calm assuran
  155. extol
    praise, glorify, or honor
    "We of the younger generation extol the wisdom of that great leader and educator," I shouted, "who first spoke these flaming words of wisdom: 'A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel.
  156. brawl
    to quarrel noisily, angrily or disruptively
    I had begun to worry about him, whether he was drunk like the rest, when I saw three of the girls who had been leaning over the balustrade watching the brawl come down to help us carry Mr. Norton up.
  157. rustle
    make a dry crackling sound
    And as I gaze, there is a rustle of wings and I see a flock of starlings flighting before me and, when I look again, the bronze face, whose empty eyes look upon a world I have never seen, runs with liquid chalk--creating another ambiguity to puzzle
  158. strut
    to walk with a lofty proud gait
    Up ahead I saw the one who thought he was a drum major strutting in front, giving orders as he moved energetically in long, hip-swinging strides, a cane held above his head, rising and falling as though in time to music.
  159. emissary
    someone sent on a mission to represent another's interests
    Others a mulatto--and others still, a simple white man of God. Whoever, and whatsoever, and we must not rule out the possibility of an emissary direct from above--oh, yes!--and remember how he appeared suddenly, startling both Founder and horse as
  160. relieve
    free from a burden, evil, or distress
    The smoke was agonizing and there were no rounds, no bells at three minute intervals to relieve our exhaustion.
  161. relax
    make less taut
    I felt the cloth pressed into place, and frowned so that it would be loosened when I relaxed.
  162. drone
    make a monotonous low dull sound
    Many times, here at night, I've closed my eyes and walked along the forbidden road that winds past the girls' dormitories, past the hall with the clock in the tower, its windows warmly aglow, on down past the small white Home Economics practice cottage, w
  163. denounce
    speak out against
    The room filled with the uproar of laughter until, no doubt, distracted by having to gulp down my blood, I made a mistake and yelled a phrase I had often seen denounced in newspaper editorials, heard debated in private.
  164. fervor
    feelings of great warmth and intensity
    "
    I spoke automatically and with such fervor that I did not realize that the men were still talking and laughing until my dry mouth, filling up with blood from the cut, almost strangled me.
  165. focus
    the concentration of attention or energy on something
    Then coming to mine, the moist eyes focused with recognition.
  166. quail
    small gallinaceous game birds
    Flocks of quail sailed up and over a field, brown, brown, sailing down, blending.
  167. focused
    brought into sharp clarity
    Then coming to mine, the moist eyes focused with recognition.
  168. sparkle
    emit or produce sparks
    The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River.'
  169. unaware
    not having or showing knowledge or understanding
    Without light I am not only invisible, but formless as well; and to be unaware of one's form is to live a death.
  170. alternate
    go back and forth
  171. automatically
    in a mechanical manner; by a mechanism
    I was fighting automatically when suddenly I noticed that one after another of the boys was leaving the ring.
  172. turmoil
    a violent disturbance
    You feel no inner turmoil, no need to cast out the offending eye?"
  173. endure
    undergo or be subjected to
    I would never have believed that they were so enduring.
  174. sting
    deliver a sudden pain to
    Suddenly I saw a boy lifted into the air, glistening with sweat like a circus seal, and dropped, his wet back landing flush upon the charged rug, heard him yell and saw him literally dance upon his back, elbows beating a frenzied tattoo upon the floor, hi
  175. degradation
    changing to a lower, less respected state
    And I was forced to the utmost degradation because I possessed skilled hands and the belief that my knowledge could bring me dignity--not wealth, only dignity--and other men health!"
  176. bland
    lacking taste or flavor or tang
    They became silent, their faces clouding over, their features becoming soft and negative, their eyes bland and deceptive.
  177. sear
    become superficially burned
    The smoke had become thicker and with each new blow it seemed to sear and further restrict my lungs.
  178. console
    give moral or emotional strength to
    And here, sitting rigid, I remember the evenings spent before the sweeping platform in awe and in pleasure, and in the pleasure of awe; remember the short formal sermons intoned from the pulpit there, rendered in smooth articulate tones, with calm assuran
  179. congratulate
    say something to someone that expresses praise
    The other boys ignored me as they congratulated Tatlock and speculated as to how much they would be paid.
  180. emphatically
    without question and beyond doubt
    I was warned emphatically to forget what he had said and, indeed, this is the first time it has been mentioned outside the family circle.
  181. revealing
    showing or making known
    The fourth side was clear, revealing a gleaming space of polished floor.
  182. accidentally
    without intention; in an unintentional manner
    One night I accidentally bumped into a man, and perhaps because of the near darkness he saw me and called me an insulting name.
  183. compose
    form the substance of
    As we approached a mirror Dr. Bledsoe stopped and composed his angry face like a sculptor, making it a bland mask, leaving only the sparkle of his eyes to betray the emotion that I had seen only a moment before.
  184. injure
    cause bodily harm to
    Supercargo let out a groan like an injured horse.
  185. moisture
    wetness caused by water
    I could not tell if the moisture I felt upon my body was sweat or blood.
  186. tilt
    lean over; tip
    "Here, some of y'all tilt his head back."
  187. posture
    the arrangement of the body and its limbs
    He was a large man who wore diamond studs in a shirtfront which swelled with the ample paunch underneath, and each time the blonde swayed her undulating hips he ran his hand through the thin hair of his bald head and, with his arms upheld, his posture<
  188. enduring
    unceasing
    I would never have believed that they were so enduring.
  189. glisten
    be shiny, as if wet
    I pour the red liquid over the white mound, watching it glisten and the vapor rising as Louis bends that military instrument into a beam of lyrical sound.
  190. miniature
    being on a very small scale
    I looked upon the tinted miniature framed in engraved platinum.
  191. investigate
    conduct an inquiry of
    "And did anyone from the school investigate this matter?" he asked at last.
  192. concentration
    the spatial property of being crowded together
    And Dr. Bledsoe sat with a benign smile of inward concentration.
  193. reluctantly
    with a certain degree of unwillingness
    "The old one is, sir," I said reluctantly.
  194. gleaming
    bright with a steady but subdued shining
    The fourth side was clear, revealing a gleaming space of polished floor.
  195. relaxed
    without strain or anxiety
    I felt the cloth pressed into place, and frowned so that it would be loosened when I relaxed.
  196. collapse
    break down, literally or metaphorically
    While we were attending an embassy party she collapsed.
  197. rhythm
    an interval during which a recurring sequence occurs
    For one thing, the trumpet was blaring and the rhythm was too hectic.
  198. overall
    including everything
    I recognized the place as soon as I saw the group of children in stiff new overalls who played near a rickety fence.
  199. outcome
    something that results
    "I mean that upon you depends the outcome of the years I have spent in helping your school.
  200. humility
    a disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride
    On my graduation day I delivered an oration in which I showed that humility was the secret, indeed, the very essence of progress.
  201. contradiction
    opposition between two conflicting forces or ideas
    Those two spots are among the darkest of our whole civilization--pardon me, our whole culture (an important distinction, I've heard)--which might sound like a hoax, or a contradiction, but that (by contradiction, I mean) is how the world moves: Not
  202. sway
    move back and forth
    He was a large man who wore diamond studs in a shirtfront which swelled with the ample paunch underneath, and each time the blonde swayed her undulating hips he ran his hand through the thin hair of his bald head and, with his arms upheld, his post
  203. tense
    taut or rigid; stretched tight
    The room spun round me, a swirl of lights, smoke, sweating bodies surrounded by tense white faces.
  204. expel
    eliminate
    I thought of the glee certain folks at home would feel if I were expelled.
  205. transformed
    given a completely different form or appearance
    I can see the fruits produced by the land that your great Founder has transformed from barren clay to fertile soil."
  206. scar
    a mark left by the healing of injured tissue
    Up close I saw what I had not seen from the car: The man had a scar on his right cheek, as though he had been hit in the face with a sledge.
  207. inspire
    serve as the inciting cause of
    But the words of the others were stronger than the strength of philanthropic dollars, deeper than shafts sunk in the earth for oil and gold, more awe- inspiring than the miracles fabricated in scientific laboratories.
  208. ignored
    disregarded
    The other boys ignored me as they congratulated Tatlock and speculated as to how much they would be paid.
  209. dusk
    the time of day immediately following sunset
    Oh, long green stretch of campus, Oh, quiet songs at dusk, Oh, moon that kissed the steeple and flooded the perfumed nights, Oh, bugle that called in the morning, Oh, drum that marched us militarily at noon--what was real, what solid, what more tha
  210. inspect
    look over carefully
    Came smiling, inspecting, encouraging, conversing in whispers, speechmaking into the wide-open ears of our black and yellow faces--and each leaving a sizeable check as he departed.
  211. plunge
    dash violently or with great speed or impetuosity
    Then I was aware of fresh air and saw that I was near the door and pushed my way free and stood panting and preparing to plunge back for Mr. Norton--when I heard Halley calling, "Make way y'all!" and saw him piloting Mr. Norton to the door.
  212. salute
    a formal military gesture of respect
    Suddenly the wild look changed in his eyes and he stepped back and saluted with stiff precision.
  213. tension
    the action of stretching something tight
    I said, trying hard to conceal my tension and fear.
  214. fertile
    capable of reproducing
    There were no trees, no flowers, no fertile farmland.
  215. amazed
    filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise
    I followed his eyes and was amazed to see the varied expressions on the patients' faces as they silently returned his gaze.
  216. orator
    a person who delivers a speech
    But I am an orator, a rabble rouser--Am? I was, and perhaps shall be again.
  217. caress
    touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
    I wanted at one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor, or go to her and cover her from my eyes and the eyes of the others with my body; to feel the soft thighs, to caress her and destroy her, to love her and murder her,
  218. weave
    pattern or structure of a fabric
    Pushed this way and that by the legs milling around me, I finally pulled erect and discovered that I could see the black, sweat-washed forms weaving in the smoky-blue atmosphere like drunken dancers weaving to the rapid drum-like thuds of blows.
  219. outrage
    a disgraceful event
    And in my outrage I got out my knife and prepared to slit his throat, right there beneath the lamplight in the deserted street, holding him by the collar with one hand, and opening the knife with my teeth--when it occurred to me that the man had no
  220. loom
    a textile machine for weaving yarn into a textile
    Somethin' hits the wall--boom-a- loom-a-loom!--like a cannon ball, and I tries to cover up my head.
  221. crude
    belonging to an early stage of technical development
    We were embarrassed by the earthy harmonies they sang, but since the visitors were awed we dared not laugh at the crude, high, plaintively animal sounds Jim Trueblood made as he led the quartet.
  222. rejoice
    feel happiness or joy
    "You awakened when he awakened, rejoiced when he rejoiced at their leaving without further harm; arising when he arose; seeing with his eyes the prints of their milling footsteps and the cartridges dropped in the dust about the imprint of his falle
  223. register
    an official written record of names or events
    He was the largest of the group, wearing dark red fighting trunks much too small to conceal the erection which projected from him as though in answer to the insinuating low- registered moaning of the clarinet.
  224. barren
    completely wanting or lacking
    Many times, here at night, I've closed my eyes and walked along the forbidden road that winds past the girls' dormitories, past the hall with the clock in the tower, its windows warmly aglow, on down past the small white Home Economics practice cottage, w
  225. achieve
    gain with effort
    I was sore, and into my being had come a profound craving for tranquillity, for peace and quiet, a state I felt I could never achieve.
  226. blend
    mix together different elements
    Flocks of quail sailed up and over a field, brown, brown, sailing down, blending.
  227. rigid
    incapable of or resistant to bending
    Then I saw him waver, rigid from his ankles upward.
  228. shrewd
    marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
    A Bostonian, smoker of cigars, teller of polite Negro stories, shrewd banker, skilled scientist, director, philanthropist, forty years a bearer of the white man's burden, and for sixty a symbol of the Great Traditions.
  229. wither
    lose freshness, vigor, or vitality
    I loved him and give him the poison and he withered away like a frost-bit apple.
  230. convince
    make realize the truth or validity of something
    You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you.
  231. arrange
    put into a proper or systematic order
    Chairs were arranged in neat rows around three sides of a portable boxing ring.
  232. awe
    an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration
    We were embarrassed by the earthy harmonies they sang, but since the visitors were awed we dared not laugh at the crude, high, plaintively animal sounds Jim Trueblood made as he led the quartet.
  233. reveal
    make visible
    And wait until I reveal how truly irresponsible I am.
  234. brace
    a support that steadies or strengthens something else
    He held his ground, his legs braced, hands on hips, and to keep from hitting him I slammed on the brakes.
  235. defined
    showing clearly the outline or profile or boundary
    And what puzzled me was that the old man had defined it as treachery.
  236. negative
    characterized by denial or opposition or resistance
    They became silent, their faces clouding over, their features becoming soft and negative, their eyes bland and deceptive.
  237. resentment
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    It's when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back.
  238. switch
    device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
    It almost took my breath away and I leaned over and switched on the fan, hearing its sudden whirr.
  239. liquid
    fluid matter having no fixed shape but a fixed volume
    I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and I might even be said to possess a mind.
  240. survive
    continue in existence after
    "Yes," he said, "I know that many of the old families still survive.
  241. applause
    a demonstration of approval by clapping the hands together
    Much applause and laughter.
  242. flutter
    flap the wings rapidly or fly with flapping movements
    That fluttering shadow before my eyes was his jabbing left hand.
  243. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you.
  244. foul
    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
    I was careful not to come too close to the rug now, and when I felt the hot whiskey breath descend upon me like a cloud of foul air I reached out and grabbed the leg of a chair.
  245. divide
    a serious disagreement between two groups of people
    I listened with fascination, my eyes glued to the white line dividing the highway as my thoughts attempted to sweep back to the times of which he spoke.
  246. whirl
    the shape of something rotating rapidly
    With Supercargo lying helpless upon the bar, the men whirled about like maniacs.
  247. invisible
    impossible or nearly impossible to see
    I am an invisible man.

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