"Ceremony," Vocabulary from Sections 6-8

"Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko is about the wounds of the past and how difficult it can be to reconcile with that past and move forward.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Sections 1-3, Sections 4-5, Sections 6-8, Sections 9-10

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. sacred
    worthy of religious veneration
    The thin winter snow was already gone from the high peaks, and the sacred mountain was a dusty, dry blue color.
  2. feeble
    pathetically lacking in force or effectiveness
    The ribbons were speckled with dead flies and a few that made feeble attempts to pull loose.
  3. endure
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    But in the jungle he had not been able to endure the flies that had crawled over Rocky; they had enraged him.
  4. expose
    disclose to view as by removing a cover
    Years of rain and wind had weathered away the adobe plaster, exposing the symmetry of the brown adobes which were beginning to lose their square shape, taking on the softer contours of the mesas and hills.
  5. massive
    containing a great quantity of matter
    They had been cut from heavy oak planks, and they spiraled around the massive center timber like the small bones of a spine held in place by thick wooden pegs.
  6. pluck
    pull or pull out sharply
    He smelled the waxy dark green leaves, and remembered climbing the big cottonwood trees along the river and plucking heavy hanging bunches of cottonwood berries that grew on the female trees late in the summer.
  7. recede
    become faint or more distant
    The sickness had receded into a shadow behind him, something he saw only out of the corners of his eyes, over his shoulder.
  8. soothing
    affording physical relief
    It was soothing to rub the dust over his hands; he rubbed it carefully across his light brown skin, the stark white gypsum dust making a spotted pattern, and then he knew why it was done by the dancers: it connected them to the earth.
  9. attend
    take charge of or deal with
    But if you were an Indian, you attended to business and then left, and you were never in that town after dark.
  10. quiver
    move back and forth very rapidly
    He circled the mound and stared at a faded blue rag partially uncovered, quivering in the wind.
  11. furiously
    (of the elements) in a wild and stormy manner
    Thick black smoke climbed furiously into the cloudless blue sky, hot and windless.
  12. vacant
    void of thought or knowledge
    They walked like survivors, with dull vacant eyes, their fists clutching the coins he’d thrown to them.
  13. consume
    destroy completely
    The old man was tall and his chest was wide; at one time he had been heavier, but old age was consuming everything but the bones.
  14. oppose
    contrast with equal weight or force
    The boxes were stacked crookedly, some stacks leaning into others, with only their opposing angles holding them steady.
  15. dismiss
    cease to consider
    He wanted to dismiss all of it as an old man’s rubbish, debris that had fallen out of the years, but the boxes and trunks, the bundles and stacks were plainly part of the pattern: they followed the concentric shadows of the room.
  16. replace
    put in the place of another
    But with this old man it did not end there; under the medicine bags and bundles of rawhide on the walls, he saw layers of old calendars, the sequences of years confused and lost as if occasionally the oldest calendars had fallen or been taken out from under the others and then had been replaced on top of the most recent years.
  17. favor
    consider as the favorite
    He recognized names of stores in Phoenix and Albuquerque, but in recent years the old man had favored Santa Fe Railroad calendars that had Indian scenes painted on them—Navajos herding sheep, deer dancers at Cochiti, and little Pueblo children chasing burros.
  18. cease
    He laughed, and when his laughter seemed almost to cease, he would shake his head and laugh all over again.
  19. collapse
    break down, literally or metaphorically
    The tears ran along the sides of Tayo’s nose and off his chin; as they fell, the hollow inside his chest folded into the black hole, and he waited for the collapse into himself.
  20. inclusive
    encompassing much or everything
    His sickness was only part of something larger, and his cure would be found only in something great and inclusive of everything.
  21. pitiful
    inspiring mixed contempt and sorrow
    The calendars Betonie got for free and the phone books that he picked up in his travels—all of it seemed suddenly so pitiful and small compared to the world he knew the white people had—a world of comfort in the sprawling houses he’d seen in California, a world of plenty in the food he had carried from the officers’ mess to dump into garbage cans.
  22. propel
    cause to move forward with force
    Anger propelled him to his feet; his legs were stiff from sitting for so long.
  23. manipulate
    influence or control shrewdly or deviously
    Some people act like witchery is responsible for everything that happens, when actually witchery only manipulates a small portion.”
  24. seldom
    not often
    It is very peaceful with the bears; the people say that’s the reason human beings seldom return.
  25. reside
    be inherent or innate in
    “They want us to believe all evil resides with white people.
  26. fester
    ripen and generate pus
    Entire tribes will die out covered with festered sores shitting blood vomiting blood.
  27. vast
    unusually great in size or amount or extent or scope
    The world below was distant and small; it was dwarfed by a sky so blue and vast the clouds were lost in it.
  28. lope
    a smooth three-beat gait
    When they got close enough that they could smell wood smoke, they pulled the running horses down to a lope and then a trot.
  29. peculiar
    unique or specific to a person or thing or category
    She held her mouth tight, teeth clenched under her thin lips, and she stared at them with hazel green eyes that had a peculiar night shine of a wolf or bobcat.
  30. contempt
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    The old men discussed the stupidity of the young men in tones of great contempt.
  31. senile
    mentally or physically infirm with age
    We try to teach our children to avoid touching alien things, but every day they see you do it, you senile old man.
  32. tolerate
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    Although the people detected changes in the ceremonies Descheeny performed, they tolerated them because of his acknowledged power to aid victims tainted by Christianity or liquor.
  33. resist
    express opposition through action or words
    My mother and my old aunts did not resist because it all had been settled before Descheeny died.
  34. wispy
    thin and weak
    He turned away from the calendar; he felt sick, like a walking shadow, faint and wispy, his sense of balance still swaying from the ride in the cab of the tank truck.
  35. conceive
    have the idea for
    He wanted to laugh at the station man who did not even know that his existence and the existence of all white people had been conceived by witchery.
  36. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    Helen Jean squealed and laughed because Leroy’s driving threw them hard against each other; Harley had his arms around her neck, bellowing out war whoops and laughs.
  37. apply
    ask for something
    Monday she borrowed Elaine’s blue dress, and she went down to the Kimo theater to apply for the job they advertised in the theater window.
  38. rage
    a feeling of intense anger
    The Isleta turned to her; his eyes were pinched with rage.
  39. graze
    feed as in a meadow or pasture
    At twilight the earth was darker than the sky, and it was difficult to see if any of Romero’s sheep or goats were grazing along the edge of the pavement.
  40. grief
    intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one
    So they tried to sink the loss in booze, and silence their grief with war stories about their courage, defending the land they had already lost.

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