"Ceremony," Vocabulary from Sections 9-10

"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. interfere
    come between so as to be hindrance or obstacle
    He led her to the tall grass around the pool and held the reins while she grazed, watching how she took great mouthfuls, working the bit with her tongue so that it didn’t interfere with chewing the grass.
  2. instinct
    inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to stimuli
    Maybe the dawn woke the instinct in the dim memory of the blood when horses had been as wild as the deer and at sunrise went into the trees and thickets to hide.
  3. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    Until the previous night, old Betonie’s vision of stars, cattle, a woman, and a mountain had seemed remote; he had been wary, especially after he found the stars, and they were in the north.
  4. wander
    move about aimlessly or without any destination
    The last time Josiah had seen them, the cattle had been wandering southwest along the boundary between the reservation and state land.
  5. holster
    a belt with loops or slots for carrying small hand tools
    He helped Tayo stitch a leather holster for the pliers one evening after supper, and he reminded him that you never knew when you might be traveling some place and a fence might get in your way.
  6. discourage
    try to prevent; show opposition to
    He worked on his knees, cutting away the wire at ground level, where it continued under the surface six inches deep to discourage coyotes and wolves from digging under it.
  7. casualty
    someone injured or killed in a military engagement
    The destroyers had only to set it into motion, and sit back to count the casualties.
  8. devour
    destroy completely
    But it was more than a body count; the lies devoured white hearts, and for more than two hundred years white people had worked to fill their emptiness; they tried to glut the hollowness with patriotic wars and with great technology and the wealth it brought.
  9. deceptive
    designed to mislead either deliberately or inadvertently
    But the mare stumbled and threw him hard against the saddle horn, and he realized how deceptive the moonlight was; exposed root tips and dark rocks waited in deep shadows cast by the moon.
  10. accompany
    be present or associated with an event or entity
    A strange paralysis accompanied his thoughts; a sudden overwhelming fatigue took hold, and his heart pounded furiously, and he panted trying to walk only a few feet from the place he had tied the mare.
  11. clarity
    the quality of being transparent or clear
    Inside him the muddy water turmoil was settling to the bottom, and streaks of clarity were slowly emerging.
  12. steadily
    at a continuous rate or pace
    In the distance up ahead he occasionally caught glimpses of the cattle, trotting steadily; they appeared in clearings and disappeared into oak thickets again, still following the south boundary fence to the east.
  13. relieved
    made easier to bear
    He was relieved because he feared leaving people he loved.
  14. accumulate
    collect or gather
    The leaves accumulated in deep layers of years, and his feet sank under the new copper leaves that had already fallen this year.
  15. despise
    look down on with disdain
    The people had been taught to despise themselves because they were left with barren land and dry rivers.
  16. dissolution
    separation into component parts
    But the effects were hidden, evident only in the sterility of their art, which continued to feed off the vitality of other cultures, and in the dissolution of their consciousness into dead objects: the plastic and neon, the concrete and steel.
  17. fragile
    easily broken or damaged or destroyed
    And what little still remained to white people was shriveled like a seed hoarded too long, shrunken past its time, and split open now, to expose a fragile, pale leaf stem, perfectly formed and dead.
  18. impassable
    incapable of being gone across or through
    Under his feet the dark mountain clay was saturated, making it slippery and soft; the ranch roads would be impassable with sticky mud, and it would be days before the cowboys could patrol the fences again.
  19. vulnerable
    capable of being wounded or hurt
    The early storm had caught the tree vulnerable with leaves that caught the snow and held it in drifts until the branches dragged the ground.
  20. obscure
    make unclear, indistinct, or blurred
    The mesas to the east were obscured by veils of falling snow, and the sky above them was dark blue.
  21. sparse
    not dense
    But overhead the snowflakes became sparse and floated down slowly on their own weight, now that the wind was gone.
  22. orifice
    an opening, especially one that opens into a bodily cavity
    It was only a continuation of the deep canyon orifice that revealed the interior layers of the mountain plateau.
  23. fend
    withstand the force of something
    As they walked closer, the cows crowded closer together, and some of them lowered their heads and snorted as if they were fending off coyotes.
  24. perversion
    the action of corrupting something
    The anger made him lightheaded, but he did not talk about this other dimension of their perversion which, like the hunting of the mountain lion, was their idea of “sport” and fun.
  25. recall
    bring to mind
    Sometimes Auntie looked at him in a way that could only mean she was recalling the winters before, when he had lain in the bed vomiting and crying.
  26. oblivious
    lacking conscious awareness of
    But he was looking the other way, oblivious to the scuffling and noise, opening the blades on his pocketknife, one by one, and stabbing them into the juniper post.
  27. suffocate
    deprive of oxygen and prevent from breathing
    But it was not the green color of the jungles, suffocating and strangling the earth.
  28. imitate
    reproduce someone's behavior or looks
    He found flowers that had no bees, and gathered yellow pollen gently with a small blue feather from Josiah’s pouch; he imitated the gentleness of the bees as they brushed their sticky-haired feet and bellies softly against the flowers.
  29. subside
    descend into or as if into some soft substance or place
    She was with him again, a heartbeat unbroken where time subsided into dawn, and the sunset gave way to the stars, wheeling across the night.
  30. protrude
    extend out or project in space
    He nodded at Robert, but he was involved with other things: memories and shifting sounds heard in the night, diamond patterns, black on white; the energy of the designs spiraled deep, then protruded suddenly into three-dimensional summits, their depth and height dizzy and shifting with the eye.
  31. ambition
    a cherished desire
    “Their highest ambition is to gut human beings while they are still breathing, to hold the heart still beating so the victim will never feel anything again.
  32. arouse
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    Only destruction is capable of arousing a sensation, the remains of something alive in them; and each time they do it, the scar thickens, and they feel less and less, yet still hungering for more.
  33. merge
    become one
    The rain and wind were overtaking her, rubbing away the details of her legs; the sun was bleaching her hooves into faint outlines, merging into the cliff.
  34. converge
    move or draw together at a certain location
    All things seemed to converge there: roads and wagon trails, canyons with springs, cliff paintings and shrines, the memory of Josiah with his cattle; but the other was distinct and strong like the violet-flowered weed that killed the mule, and the black markings on the cliffs, deep caves along the valley the Spaniards followed to their attack on Acoma.
  35. salvage
    collect discarded or refused material
    Cebolleta people salvaged lumber and tin from the shack, but they had no use for the barbed wire any more; the last bony cattle wandering the dry canyons had died in choking summer duststorms.
  36. zenith
    the point above the observer directly opposite the nadir
    A transition was about to be completed: the sun was crossing the zenith to a winter place in the sky, a place where prayers of long winter nights would call out the long summer days of new growth.
  37. solstice
    when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator
    Their deadly ritual for the autumn solstice would have been completed by him.
  38. vehemence
    intensity or forcefulness of expression
    At home the people would blame liquor, the Army, and the war, but the blame on the whites would never match the vehemence the people would keep in their own bellies, reserving the greatest bitterness and blame for themselves, for one of themselves they could not save.
  39. particular
    unique or specific to a person or thing or category
    It was while he was sitting there, facing southeast, that he noticed how the four windows along the south wall of the kiva had a particular relationship to this late autumn position of the sun.
  40. manage
    handle effectively
    But she said that now the women at Church came to her privately, after mass or before the bingo games, to ask her how she had managed all those years to face the troubles which had been dropped into her lap.

Sign up, it's free!

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