hang over, as of something threatening, dark, or menacing
May in Ayemenem is a hot,
"Brood" also means "be in a huff; be silent or sullen"--this definition could fit because hot weather can make one less happy and talkative; this is suggested in the description: "the nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation." "Brooding" also means "sitting on eggs to hatch them by the warmth of the body"--this could be suggested by the descriptions of the heat ripening bananas and bursting jackfruits.
devoid of intelligence
Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air.
Bluebottles are flies, which are not usually described as dissolute ("unrestrained by convention or morality") or vacuous. But these adjectives emphasize the heat's effects: it is so hot that flies are mating so much that their mindless hums can be heard throughout Ayemenem, even when the sun makes many of them fly into clear windowpanes and die.
spread or diffuse through
Anticipating the sharp, smoky stink of old urine that
permeated the walls and furniture, they clamped their nostrils shut well before the smell began.
cessation or slowing of activity during the summer
It wasn’t an accusing, protesting silence as much as a sort of
estivation, a dormancy, the psychological equivalent of what lungfish do to get themselves through the dry season, except that in Estha’s case the dry season looked as though it would last forever.
Estivation is similar to hibernation, except that animals hibernate in the winter. Animals either estivate or hibernate in order to preserve energy, so that they would have a better chance of survival when resources are more plentiful or the weather is less harsh. However, Estha is estivating because he doesn't see much of a reason to live.
loud and persistent outcry from many people
Vendors in the bazaar, sitting behind pyramids of oiled, shining vegetables, grew to recognize him and would attend to him amidst the
clamoring of their other customers.
disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried
He was the first person in Ayemenem to hear of Rahel’s return. The news didn’t
perturb him as much as excite his curiosity.
state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one
She spent her holidays in Ayemenem, largely ignored by Chacko and Mammachi (grown soft with sorrow, slumped in their
bereavement like a pair of drunks in a toddy bar) and largely ignoring Baby Kochamma.
not capable of being carried out or put into practice
He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane,
unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation.
That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own
recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
Inured by the confirmation of his own inconsequence, he became
resilient and truly indifferent.
"Resilient" can be a synonym of "inured" ("made tough by habitual exposure"). Both adjectives refer to the Small God, but they could also describe some of the human characters. But like the numb, laughing, and indifferent Small God who is compared to a rich boy who's happy that he's not as miserable as others, the characters who are resilient are not the most likable in this novel.
marked by balance or equilibrium and readiness for action
In the country that she came from,
poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, Worse Things kept happening.
Recently, after enduring more than half a century of
relentless, pernickety attention, the ornamental garden had been abandoned.
wish, long, or crave for
Pappachi would not believe her story—not because he thought well of her husband, but simply because he didn’t believe that an Englishman, any Englishman, would
covet another man’s wife.
only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
Old female relations with
incipient beards and several wobbling chins made overnight trips to Ayemenem to commiserate with her about her divorce.
a disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations
She was keen for them to realize that they (like herself) lived on
sufferance in the Ayemenem House, their maternal grandmother’s house, where they really had no right to be.
Although Baby Kochamma lives on sufferance (because she should be married with her own family, instead of living with her older brother's family), she is actually quite an insufferable ("extremely unpleasant or annoying") character who wants to see people suffer and who grudges the young twins their moments of happiness.
It was a literal translation of Ruchi lokathinde Rajavu, which sounded a little less
ludicrous than Emperors of the Realm of Taste.
cause to deteriorate due to water, air, or an acid
To some small degree he did succeed in further
corroding Ayemenem’s view of working wives.
characterized by oppressive heat and humidity
Until the day he died, even in the
stifling Ayemenem heat, every single day Pappachi wore a well-pressed three-piece suit and his gold pocket watch.
"Stifling" also means "forceful prevention; putting down by power or authority"--this describes Pappachi, who increased the frequency of his wife-beatings when he saw that Mammachi was gaining respect while he was losing it in the larger world. Pappachi's stifling nature is the reason he wears suits in the stifling heat--his need to be impressively oppressive makes the heat seem less oppressive to him.
Almost immediately, the financial slide began, but was artificially buoyed by
extravagant bank loans that Chacko raised by mortgaging the family’s rice fields around the Ayemenem House.
not famous or acclaimed
At first he had wanted to call it Zeus Pickles & Preserves, but that idea was vetoed because everybody said that Zeus was too
obscure and had no local relevance, whereas Paradise did.
marked by lack of definite plan or regularity or purpose
desultory nod of his bored and sleepy head, the Level Crossing Divinity conjured up beggars with bandages, men with trays selling pieces of fresh coconut, parippu vadas on banana leaves.
rich and superior in quality
Suddenly the skyblue Plymouth looked absurdly
opulent on the narrow, pitted road.
working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
The real secret was that communism crept into Kerala insidiously. As a reformist movement that never overtly questioned the traditional values of a caste-ridden, extremely traditional community.
characterized by strong enthusiasm
Chacko studied his treatise on “The Peaceful Transition to Communism” with an adolescent’s obsessive diligence and an
ardent fan’s unquestioning approval.
treat or speak of with contempt
Every morning at breakfast the Imperial Entomologist
derided his argumentative Marxist son by reading out newspaper reports of the riots, strikes and incidents of police brutality that convulsed Kerala.
containing or implying a slight or showing prejudice
This was the trouble with families. Like
invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt.
spot, stain, or pollute
Mammachi told Estha and Rahel that she could remember a time, in her girlhood, when Paravans were expected to crawl backwards with a broom, sweeping away their footprints so that Brahmins or Syrian Christians would not
defile themselves by accidentally stepping into a Paravan’s footprint.
something causing misery or death
When the British came to Malabar, a number of Paravans, Pelayas and Pulayas (among them Velutha’s grandfather, Kelan) converted to Christianity and joined the Anglican Church to escape the
scourge of Untouchability.
the trait of being rude and impertinent
While these were qualities that were perfectly acceptable, perhaps even desirable, in Touchables, Vellya Paapen thought that in a Paravan they could (and would, and indeed, should) be construed as
It caused a great deal of resentment among the other Touchable factory workers because, according to them, Paravans were not meant to be carpenters. And certainly,
prodigal Paravans were not meant to be rehired.
Implied here is the Christian parable of the prodigal son who leaves home, wastes his inheritance, and returns home to seek the forgiveness of his father. Although Velutha did go away for a while and then returned home seeking his former position, he is, unlike the prodigal son, a skilled employee who works hard for his money and deserves more than what he actually gets.