dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight
parched days and sticky nights are undistinguished in my mind, but the storms, the violent sudden storms, both frightened and quenched me.
difficult to understand
And we did not dwell on the fact that the baby’s father was Pecola’s father too; the process of having a baby by any male was
incomprehensible to us—at least she knew her father.
We thought only of this
overwhelming hatred for the unborn baby.
characterized by insincerity or deceit
We had defended ourselves since memory against everything and everybody, considered all speech a code to be broken by us, and all gestures subject to careful analysis; we had become headstrong,
devious and arrogant.
intrude in other people's affairs or business
Why are you so busy
I just wondered. You don’t talk to anybody. You don’t go to school. And nobody talks to you.
How do you know nobody talks to me?
According to the chosen definition, one usually meddles in another person's business; one does not meddle someone else. But Pecola's use of the verb that way emphasizes her passive victimization (as well as her shortened education); it is also heartbreaking because she could have benefitted from more meddling by concerned friends and adults. But the conversation is actually one Pecola is having with herself, because she has gone mad.
desire strongly or persistently
A little black girl
yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her
yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.
be or do something to a greater degree
A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is
exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.
slender structure by which some plants attach to an object
She spent her days, her
tendril, sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear.
The use of the word "tendril" emphasizes Pecola's tender (vulnerable and easily crushed) nature and youth. But while a tendril would attach itself to an object for support, Pecola is alone and jerking to the beat of her own drummer.
Elbows bent, hands on shoulders, she
flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly.
producing no result or effect
Elbows bent, hands on shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely
futile effort to fly.
a coarse obnoxious person
Our flowers never grew. I was convinced that Frieda was right, that I had planted them too deeply. How could I have been so
sloven? So we avoided Pecola Breedlove— forever.
"Sloven" is a noun but the narrator is using it as an adjective. While Claudia could be seen as coarse and obnoxious for ignoring a hurting Pecola, in the example sentence, she was wondering how she could have been so slovenly in her planting. She had believed that God would grant her wish to help Pecola's baby live, if she gave up the money from selling the seeds. But Pecola's baby died; thus, Claudia assumed that her planting had been done poorly.
with one leg on each side
We were so beautiful when we stood
astride her ugliness.
make pure or free from sin or guilt
Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt
sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor.
expressing yourself readily, clearly, effectively
Her inarticulateness made us believe we were
refine or make more perfect or effective
honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
the state of being weak in health or body
We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her
frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
showing or having sympathy for another's suffering
And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not
compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved.
give a false appearance of
We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to
simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.
an enclosure within which something originates or develops
But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the
matrix of her agony with death.
make ineffective by counterbalancing the effect of
The loved one is shorn,
neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.
the act of making a choice
Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own
volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.
agree or express agreement
Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we
acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.