lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Our illness is treated with
contempt, foul Black Draught, and castor oil that blunts our minds.
become or make sore by or as if by rubbing
My mother’s anger humiliates me; her words
chafe my cheeks, and I am crying.
make productive or fruitful
But was it really like that? As painful as I remember? Only mildly. Or rather, it was a productive and
confused and vague; used especially of thinking
“You know him,” she said to her friends. “Henry Washington. He’s been living over there with Miss Della Jones on Thirteenth Street. But she’s too
addled now to keep up. So he’s looking for another place.”
unpleasantly loud and harsh
Sometimes their words move in lofty spirals; other times they take
strident leaps, and all of it is punctuated with warm-pulsed laughter—like the throb of a heart made of jelly.
incapable of being retracted
Outdoors was the end of something, an
irrevocable, physical fact, defining and complementing our metaphysical condition.
on or near an edge or constituting an outer boundary
peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with—probably because it was abstract.
spotlessly clean and fresh
What I felt at that time was
clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment
It was a most uncomfortable,
patently aggressive sleeping companion.
Break off the tiny fingers, bend the flat feet, loosen the hair, twist the head around, and the thing made one sound—a sound they said was the sweet and
plaintive cry “Mama,” but which sounded to me like the bleat of a dying lamb, or, more precisely, our icebox door opening on rusty hinges in July.
strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
Instead I tasted and smelled the
acridness of tin plates and cups designed for tea parties that bored me.
be incomprehensible to
The indifference with which I could have axed them was shaken only by my desire to do so. To discover what
eluded me: the secret of the magic they weaved on others.
unaffected by concern for one's own welfare
When I learned how repulsive this
disinterested violence was, that it was repulsive because it was
disinterested, my shame floundered about for refuge.
tiresomely long; seemingly without end
interminable, insulting, and although indirect (Mama never named anybody—just talked about folks and some people), extremely painful in their thrust.
cause to feel shame
She would go on like that for hours, connecting one offense to another until all of the things that
chagrined her were spewed out.
capable of being borne though unpleasant
Misery colored by the greens and blues in my mother’s voice took all of the grief out of the words and left me with a conviction that pain was not only
endurable, it was sweet.
force onto another
It does not recede into its background of leaden sky, nor harmonize with the gray frame houses and black telephone poles around it. Rather, it
foists itself on the eye of the passerby in a manner that is both irritating and melancholy.
make or work out a plan for; devise
The plan of the living quarters was as unimaginative as a first-generation Greek landlord could
contrive it to be.
capable of being reached with great difficulty or not at all
There were no bath facilities. Only a toilet bowl,
inaccessible to the eye, if not the ear, of the tenants.
spread or diffuse through
And the joylessness stank,
secret and sly
It imposed a
furtiveness on the loving done on it.
a feeling of mild sickness or depression
Like a sore tooth that is not content to throb in isolation, but must diffuse its own pain to other parts of the body—making breathing difficult, vision limited, nerves unsettled, so a hated piece of furniture produces a fretful
malaise that asserts itself throughout the house and limits the delight of things not related to it.
deprive of strength or efficiency; make useless or worthless
Although their poverty was traditional and
stultifying, it was not unique.
No one could have convinced them that they were not
relentlessly and aggressively ugly.
dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure
Except for the father, Cholly, whose ugliness (the result of despair,
dissipation, and violence directed toward petty things and weak people) was behavior, the rest of the family—Mrs. Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove—wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them.
marked by casual disrespect
The low, irregular hairlines, which seemed even more irregular in contrast to the straight, heavy eyebrows which nearly met. Keen but crooked noses, with
insolent nostrils. They had high cheekbones, and their ears turned forward.
burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped
Concealed, veiled, eclipsed—peeping out from behind the
shroud very seldom, and then only to yearn for the return of her mask.
a song or hymn of mourning as a memorial to a dead person
But the unquarreled evening hung like the first note of a
dirge in sullenly expectant air.
showing a brooding ill humor
But the unquarreled evening hung like the first note of a dirge in
sullenly expectant air.
having a difficult and contrary disposition
Cholly, by his habitual drunkenness and
orneriness, provided them both with the material they needed to make their lives tolerable.
offensive to the mind
She was one of the few things
abhorrent to him that he could touch and therefore hurt.
moral perversion; impairment of virtue and moral principles
Even a half-remembrance of this episode, along with myriad other humiliations, defeats, and emasculations, could stir him into flights of
depravity that surprised himself—but only himself.
by unexpressed agreement
Tacitly they had agreed not to kill each other.
a noisy fight
Sammy cursed for a while, or left the house, or threw himself into the
incapable of being explained or accounted for
Outside, Pecola feels the
inexplicable shame ebb.
easily irritated or annoyed
Blond hair in gentle disarray, blue eyes looking at her out of a world of clean comfort. The eyes are
petulant, mischievous. To Pecola they are simply pretty.
a scolding (even vicious) old woman
They all dissolved in laughter.
Three merry gargoyles. Three merry
They did not belong to those generations of prostitutes created in novels, with great and generous hearts, dedicated, because of the horror of circumstance, to
ameliorating the luckless, barren life of men, taking money incidentally and humbly for their “understanding.”
showing or affected by prejudice or envy or distaste
They abused their visitors with a scorn grown mechanical from use. Black men, white men, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Jews, Poles, whatever—all were inadequate and weak, all came under their
jaundiced eyes and were the recipients of their disinterested wrath.
a hair style in which the hair is swept up from the forehead
China had changed her mind about the bangs and was arranging a small but sturdy