Chapters 1–2

Jethro Creighton lives on a farm in southern Illinois when the Civil War begins. As he comes of age, the war impacts his family in ways he never could have imagined.
Copy this list to... Buy the Book

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. compelling
    tending to persuade or interest by forcefulness of argument
    She had been a pretty girl back in the 1830’s when she married Matthew Creighton, but prettiness was short-lived among country women of her time; she didn’t think much about it anymore except now and then when Jenny’s fourteen-year-old radiance was especially compelling.
  2. reverberation
    an echo
    Even if she had been concerned, there were reverberations of Calvinism strong within her, which would have protested vigorously against the vanity of regret for a passing beauty.
  3. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and possessions
    ...she had lived through sickness, poverty, and danger for over thirty years...
  4. destiny
    the ultimate agency predetermining the course of events
    It was a weakness of her advancing years, she supposed, but this was the son who had been spared that summer when children all around were dying of the agonizing sickness; it looked as if, somehow, Destiny had marked him.
  5. accustom
    familiarize psychologically or physically
    Jethro was accustomed to adapting himself to the behaviors and moods of older people, and he found enough in the world about him to occupy his interest as he worked.
  6. courtesy
    a polite, respectful, or considerate act
    There was a strong tie of affection between the two of them; Ellen counted Shadrach as a part of her family and looked after him as she did her own, and Shadrach Yale, in turn, showed a thoughtful courtesy for her that few women of the prairies received from their own sons.
  7. apathy
    an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
    He was mature enough at twenty to appreciate being a hero to a nine-year-old boy; besides that, Jethro’s quick mind and delight in learning had been a source of pleasure for studious young Yale, who had known the frustration of trying to penetrate the apathy and unconcern of a backwoods classroom.
  8. pretext
    a fictitious reason that conceals the real reason
    Matt had made a pretext of needing supplies from town, but she knew that this trip to Newton in the midst of a late planting season would have been unthinkable except for the urgency of getting word from the world beyond their own fields and woods pastures.
  9. weariness
    temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work
    She and Jethro stood watching as he drove away; when the wagon disappeared in a clump of trees at a bend in the road, Ellen turned back to her work slowly as if overwhelmed by a deep weariness.
  10. melancholy
    a feeling of thoughtful sadness
    Dread of war was a womanly weakness, he had discovered, evidenced by his mother’s melancholy and the tears of Jenny and his brother John’s wife, Nancy.
  11. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    She had a way of closing her eyes briefly when exasperated as if to reject for at least a second the existence of a folly that she was bound to recognize later.
  12. furor
    an interest followed with exaggerated zeal
    For months he had moved along the edge of the furor that raged among the adults of his family, of the neighborhood, and even of the church.
  13. inclination
    a characteristic likelihood of or natural disposition
    Jethro, forgetting the lecture to his mother on the inclination of people to select beliefs that bring them most satisfaction, never doubted that if Tom and Eb got their chance to go to war, they’d be back home when it was over, and that it would be shadowy men from distant parts who would die for the pages of future history books.
  14. delicate
    easily hurt
    Mary had been as pretty as Jenny, only blond and more delicate.
  15. esteem
    an attitude of admiration
    Matthew Creighton was held in high esteem by his neighbors, and the senseless killing of his daughter stirred up a rage that was heightened by the fact that the whole Burdow family was commonly despised throughout the countryside as a shiftless lot with a bad background.
  16. intervene
    get involved, so as to alter or hinder an action
    But Matt Creighton had intervened, and it was a mark of the respect he commanded in the community that the men listened as he stood for an hour in the icy afternoon pleading with them to keep their hands free of further bloodshed.
  17. unyielding
    resistant to physical force or pressure
    Jethro had to admit to himself an uncomfortable feeling of anger for both the President and his father; they had not shown the hard, unyielding attitude that he admired in the talk of Tom and Eb and their friends.
  18. gratitude
    a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation
    He smiled at her, and Jenny understood his gratitude.
  19. amiable
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    She was amiable but aloof to the friendly Creightons, except for an occasional gesture of fondness for Jenny and for John’s favorite brother, Bill.
  20. aloof
    remote in manner
    She was amiable but aloof to the friendly Creightons, except for an occasional gesture of fondness for Jenny and for John’s favorite brother, Bill.
  21. earnestly
    in a serious manner
    John defended his wife earnestly to his mother.
  22. sullen
    showing a brooding ill humor
    Nancy went on with her work, not sullenly, but so withdrawn that Ellen wearily gave up trying to talk with her and directed all her attention to the small boy.
  23. coveted
    greatly desired
    It was a coveted honor and he accepted it with dignity, looking somewhat like a solemn dwarf as he sat between his father and Bill, his eyes wide beneath the tumble of yellow curls that clung to his forehead and the back of his neck.
  24. rampage
    violently angry and destructive behavior
    In an environment where reading was not regarded highly there was something suspect about a young man who not only cared very little for hunting or wrestling and nothing at all for drinking and rampaging about the country, but who read every book he could lay his hands upon as if he prized a printed page more than the people around him.
  25. attribute
    a characteristic that distinguishes objects or individuals
    He wasn’t quite held in contempt, for he had great physical strength and was a hard worker, two attributes admired by the people around him; but he was odd, and there was no doubt of that.
  26. elicit
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    “We might ha’ had cake and fixin’s though, if Shad had been eatin’ with us,” Tom said, grinning at his sister, who could hardly hold back the pleased smile that mention of the young schoolmaster elicited.
  27. tumult
    violent agitation
    Jethro felt as if he were bursting with the tumult inside him.
  28. vehement
    marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
    He had sympathized with Tom and Eb, and he had been angered at his father’s command for silence when they grew loud and vehement in their demands for war.
  29. tremulous
    quivering as from weakness or fear
    Her voice was no longer tremulous; it carried the authoritative note sharpened by long years of mothering a large family.
    Compare the example sentence to an earlier line from the book: "Then Ellen’s voice was heard, timid and a little tremulous; farm women didn’t enter often into man-talk of politics or national affairs." When Ellen expresses her thoughts on slavery, her voice is tremulous from fear of being wrong and out of place, but when she tells her sons to stop arguing about war and be respectful during dinner, her voice has strength.
  30. defiantly
    in a rebellious manner
    He glanced defiantly from his uncle to Wilse Graham, but nobody responded to him.
Created on April 27, 2013 (updated January 2, 2019)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.