"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston, Chapters 6-10

Considered a seminal work of African-American literature, Their Eyes Were Watching God is notable for its strong and independent female protagonist.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Foreword, Chapters 1-5, Chapters 6-10, Chapters 11-15, Chapters 16-20, Afterword

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. wade
    walk through relatively shallow water
    “Where ’bouts? Did he wade in de lake and uh alligator ketch him?”
  2. stammer
    speak haltingly
    Matt realizes that they have tricked him again and the laughter makes him mad and when he gets mad he stammers.
  3. spite
    meanness or nastiness
    He stay poor and rawbony jus’ fuh spite.
  4. ornery
    having a difficult and contrary disposition
    “Does feed de ornery varmint! Don’t keer whut Ah do Ah can’t git long wid ’im. He fights every inch in front uh de plow, and even lay back his ears tuh kick and bite when Ah go in de stall tuh feed ’im.”
  5. prominence
    relative importance
    He was next to the Mayor in prominence, and made better talking.
  6. puny
    of inferior size
    They’s jus’ some puny humans playin’ round de toes uh Time.
  7. irk
    irritate or vex
    This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly.
  8. straddle
    the act of sitting or standing astride
    So one mornin’ he got straddle uh de mule and he took and brought ’im on off.
  9. disposition
    your usual mood
    Done been worked tuh death; done had his disposition ruint wid mistreatment, and now they got tuh finish devilin’ ’im tuh death.
  10. fumble
    make one's way clumsily or blindly
    She fumbled around long enough to get her face straight.
  11. gumption
    fortitude and determination
    “Didn’t buy ’im fuh no work. I god, Ah bought dat varmint tuh let ’im rest. You didn’t have gumption enough tuh do it.”
  12. orator
    a person who delivers a speech
    Hambo said, “Yo’ wife is uh born orator, Starks Us never knowed dat befo’. She put jus’ de right words tuh our thoughts.”
  13. fodder
    coarse food composed of plants or leaves and stalks
    Starks piled fodder under the big tree near the porch and the mule was usually around the store like the other citizens.
  14. hoist
    raise or haul up with or as if with mechanical help
    When he stepped down, they hoisted Sam up and he talked about the mule as a school teacher first.
  15. ponderous
    slow and laborious because of weight
    Then he took off with ponderous flight and circled and lowered, circled and lowered until the others danced in joy and hunger at his approach.
  16. sullen
    showing a brooding ill humor
    Joe returned to the store full of pleasure and good humor but he didn’t want Janie to notice it because he saw that she was sullen and he resented that.
  17. scoundrel
    someone who does evil deliberately
    “Look at dat great big ole scoundrel-beast up dere at Hall’s fillin’ station—uh great big old scoundrel. He eats up all de folks outa de house and den eat de house.”
  18. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    Jim bellowed indignantly, “Who don’t love Daisy? Ah know you ain’t talkin’ ’bout me.”
  19. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    Jim bellowed indignantly, “Who don’t love Daisy? Ah know you ain’t talkin’ ’bout me.”
  20. scorch
    burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color
    So when the bread didn’t rise, and the fish wasn’t quite done at the bone, and the rice was scorched, he slapped Janie until she had a ringing sound in her ears and told her about her brains before he stalked on back to the store.
  21. prostrate
    lie face downward, as in submission
    Then one day she sat and watched the shadow of herself going about tending store and prostrating itself before Jody, while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes.
  22. promontory
    a natural elevation
    Saw the cunning thoughts race in and out through the caves and promontories of his mind long before they darted out of the tunnel of his mouth.
  23. taunt
    harass with persistent criticism or carping
    “You heard her, you ain’t blind,” Walter taunted.
  24. commiserate
    feel or express sympathy or compassion
    “Ah rather be shot with tacks than tuh hear dat ’bout mah-self,” Lige Moss commiserated.
  25. menial
    used of unskilled work, especially domestic work
    People who never had known what it was to enter the gate of the Mayor’s yard unless it were to do some menial job now paraded in and out as his confidants.
  26. ostentatious
    intended to attract notice and impress others
    They came to the store and ostentatiously looked over whatever she was doing and went back to report to him at the house.
  27. ferocious
    marked by extreme and violent energy
    Something stood like an oxen’s foot on her tongue, and then too, Jody, no Joe, gave her a ferocious look.
  28. pacify
    ease the anger, agitation, or strong emotion of
    And now you got tuh die tuh find out dat you got tuh pacify somebody besides yo’self if you wants any love and any sympathy in dis world.
  29. futile
    producing no result or effect
    A sound of strife in Jody’s throat, but his eyes stared unwillingly into a corner of the room so Janie knew the futile fight was not with her.
  30. insinuation
    an indirect (and usually malicious) implication
    Then again the gold and red and purple, the gloat and glamor of the secret orders, each with its insinuations of power and glory undreamed of by the uninitiated.
  31. usurper
    one who wrongfully seizes and holds the place of another
    Felt like a usurper.
  32. swivel
    turn on a pivot
    Every chance he got he was reared back in Joe’s swivel chair trying to thrust out his lean belly into a paunch.
  33. scimitar
    a curved oriental saber
    Those full, lazy eyes with the lashes curling sharply away like drawn scimitars.
  34. gallant
    lively and spirited
    He struggled gallantly to free himself.

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