desire strongly or persistently
yearned to become invisible, to stop living.
escape, either physically or mentally
He dragged me into the back yard and the instant his hand left me I jumped to my feet and broke into a wild run, trying to
elude the people who surrounded me, heading for the street.
But for a long time I was
chastened whenever I remembered that my mother had come close to killing me.
a feeling of thoughtful sadness
There was the tantalizing
melancholy in the tingling scent of burning hickory wood.
a relaxed comfortable feeling
There was the
languor I felt when I heard green leaves rustling with a rainlike sound.
comfort in disappointment or misery
Solace came when I wandered about the boat and gazed at Negroes throwing dice, drinking whisky, playing cards, lolling on boxes, eating, talking, and singing.
The scrawny kitten lingered, brushing itself against our legs, and meowing plaintively.
feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
Contrite, I went to bed, hoping that I would never see another kitten.
a sharp spasm of pain
As the days slid past the image of my father became associated with my
pangs of hunger, and whenever I felt hunger I thought of him with a deep biological bitterness.
attack someone physically or emotionally
I always loved to stand in the white folks’ kitchen when my mother cooked, for it meant that I got occasional scraps of bread and meat; but many times I regretted having come, for my nostrils would be
assailed with the scent of food that did not belong to me and which I was forbidden to eat.
call upon in supplication
She beat me; then she prayed and wept over me,
imploring me to be good, telling me that she had to work, all of which carried no weight to my wayward mind.
deeply filled or permeated
A tall black boy recited a long, funny piece of doggerel,
replete with filth, describing the physiological relations between men and women, and I memorized it word for word after having heard it but once.
good at remembering
Yet, despite my
retentive memory, I found it impossible to recite when I went back into the classroom.
give in, as to influence or pressure
I sobbed, begging my mother to let me go, telling her that I would never write such words again; but she did not
relent until the last soap-word had been cleaned away.
very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
My mother ushered me and my brother one morning into the building and into the presence of a tall,
gaunt, mulatto woman who called herself Miss Simon.
abiding feeling I had each day was hunger and fear.
threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
When she was angry her eyelids drooped halfway down over her pupils, giving her a
resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires
They read my insistence as mere
obstinacy, as foolishness, something that would quickly pass; and they had no notion how desperately serious the tale had made me.
I listened, vaguely knowing now that I had committed some awful wrong that I could not undo, that I had uttered words I could not recall even though I ached to
nullify them, kill them, turn back time to the moment before I had talked so that I could have another chance to save myself.
move along rapidly and lightly; skim or dart
There was the breathlessly anxious fun of chasing and catching
flitting fireflies on drowsy summer nights.
spread or diffuse through
There was the drenching hospitality in the
pervading smell of sweet magnolias.
distinctive but intangible quality around a person or thing
There was the
aura of limitless freedom distilled from the rolling sweep of tall green grass swaying and glinting in the wind and sun.
marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
So, surreptitiously, I took some of the biscuits from the platter and slipped them into my pocket, not to eat, but to keep as a bulwark against any possible attack of hunger.
a prayer asking God's help as part of a religious service
She had grown tired of the strict religious routine of Granny’s home; of the half dozen or more daily family prayers that Granny insisted upon; her fiat that the day began at sunrise and that night commenced at sundown; the long, rambling Bible readings; the individual
invocations muttered at each meal; and her declaration that Saturday was the Lord’s Sabbath and that no one who lived in her house could work upon that day.
not circulating or flowing
We rented one half of a double corner house in front of which ran a
stagnant ditch carrying sewage.
an actively expressed feeling of dislike and hostility
To hold an attitude of
antagonism or distrust toward Jews was bred in us from childhood; it was not merely racial prejudice, it was a part of our cultural heritage.
watch over or shield from danger or harm; protect
If I spilt salt, I should toss a pinch over my left shoulder to
ward off misfortune.
strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
I resolved that I would
emulate the black woman if I were ever faced with a white mob; I would conceal a weapon, pretend that I had been crushed by the wrong done to one of my loved ones; then, just when they thought I had accepted their cruelty as the law of my life, I would let go with my gun and kill as many of them as possible before they killed me.
have an ambitious plan or a lofty goal
The hostility of the whites had become so deeply implanted in my mind and feelings that it had lost direct connection with the daily environment in which I lived; and my reactions to this hostility fed upon itself, grew or diminished according to the news that reached me about the whites, according to what I
aspired or hoped for.
influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
“Just forget us and write your name and address,” the teacher