Chapters 7–10

After the death of their daughter, Frank McCourt's impoverished immigrant parents decide to return to Ireland. With humor and tenderness, this Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir tells the story of his early life there.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. sorrow
    an emotion of great sadness associated with loss
    I envy Mickey because every time someone dies in his family he gets a week off from school and his mother stitches a black diamond patch on his sleeve so that he can wander from lane to lane and street to street and people will know he has the grief and pat his head and give him money and sweets for his sorrow.
  2. melancholy
    characterized by or causing or expressing sadness
    It begins, It is a melancholy object to those who walk...
  3. wholesome
    characteristic of physical or moral well-being
    And what do you think of that, Francis, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, eh?
  4. demented
    affected with madness or insanity
    Mr.Timoney was told this and cried and laughed so hard the doctor came and said he was gone beyond recall so they carted him off to the City Home, where they keep old people who are helpless or demented.
  5. pity
    an unfortunate development
    Then she says, Ah, I’m sorry and it’s a pity you lost two jobs.
  6. gawk
    look with amazement
    I know if you say anything the grown-up people will tell you, Never mind, you’re always gawking, none of your business, go out and play.
  7. glare
    an angry stare
    Grandma glares at me with her old red eyes.
  8. affliction
    a cause of great suffering and distress
    I sit and wait upstairs, knocking the fleas off my arms and legs, wishing I had Dad here, thinking of my little brother and his foreign name, Alphonsus, an affliction of a name.
  9. rue
    feel sorry for; be contrite about
    I said come down this minute for if I have to climb these stairs I’ll warm your behind and you’ll rue the day.
  10. fortitude
    strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity
    We will have the Gifts of the Holy Ghost: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, the Fear of the Lord.
  11. prone
    having a tendency
    She says when boys go from the one number year, which is nine, to the two number year, which is ten, they’re changing and prone to the nosebleed.
  12. stern
    serious and harsh in manner or behavior
    She’s a very stern nurse from the County Kerry and she frightens me.
  13. apparatus
    a group of body parts that work together in a given function
    There’s to be no laughing for you could be doing serious damage to your internal apparatus.
  14. relapse
    deteriorate in health
    You know the singing could lead to a relapse in these patients.
  15. torment
    treat cruelly
    Malachy is in fifth class now with Mr. O’Dea and he likes to tell everyone he’s learning the big red catechism for Confirmation and Mr. O’Dea is telling them all about state of grace and Euclid and how the English tormented the Irish for eight hundred long years.
  16. condemn
    pronounce a punishment, as in a court of law
    Dad lets me read his favorite book, John Mitchel’s Jail Journal, which is all about a great Irish rebel the English condemned to exile in Van Diemen's land in Australia.
  17. sneer
    smile contemptuously
    She doesn’t care and I’m put into that class with Malachy and I know all his friends are there sneering at me because I was put back.
  18. refined
    suggesting taste, ease, and wealth
    The new rich people go home after Mass on Sundays all airs and stuff themselves with meat and potatoes, sweets and cakes galore, and they think nothing of drinking their tea from delicate little cups which stand in saucers to catch the tea that overflows and when they lift the cups they stick out their little fingers to show how refined they are.
  19. squall
    make high-pitched, whiney noises
    Prams might be packed with four or five babies squalling away because the prams are old and the wheels bockety and the babies are rocked till they get sick and throw up their goody.
  20. extravagant
    recklessly wasteful
    I know it sounds extravagant but I’m going to light the fire and make more tea for it isn’t every day your father goes to England.
  21. famished
    extremely hungry
    We’ll all have new boots and coats to keep off the rain so we won’t be coming home from school famished.
  22. begrudge
    allow unwillingly or reluctantly
    They’re happy telegram boys because the tips they get in the lanes are bigger than anything they get in the grand streets and avenues where rich people will begrudge you the steam of their piss.
  23. stagger
    walk with great difficulty
    We’d have to watch the Meehans and everyone else parading around in their new clothes and staggering home with eggs and potatoes and sausages for Sunday and sailing off to the films on Saturday night.
  24. ooze
    pass gradually or leak or as if through small openings
    The sore spreads into my eyes anyway and now they’re red and yellow from the stuff that oozes and makes them stick in the morning.
  25. ailment
    an often persistent bodily disorder or disease
    The benches are always packed with people talking about their ailments.
  26. notorious
    known widely and usually unfavorably
    They know he might turn them over to Mr. Coffey and he’s notorious for saying no to everything.
  27. contradiction
    opposition between two conflicting forces or ideas
    Mam tells Mr. Kane that Dad is in Coventry and nowhere near Piccadilly and Mr. Kane takes off his glasses and stares at her. What’s this? Are we having a little contradiction here?
  28. ignorance
    the lack of knowledge or education
    Of course you don’t know. There’s great ignorance in the world.
  29. sallow
    unhealthy looking
    That would teach Mam a lesson for marrying a man from the North with sallow skin, an odd manner and a look of the Presbyterian about him.
  30. mangy
    worn or threadbare
    She tells me I have to push Alphie through the streets, she can’t manage the pram with that bockety wheel that makes it rock back and forth and besides ’tis a disgraceful-looking object she’d be ashamed to put a mangy dog in.
Created on March 20, 2013 (updated November 1, 2018)

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