marked by balance or equilibrium and readiness for action
The God of Thunder sat alertly
poised nearby, watching.
"The God of Thunder" is an epithet ("descriptive phrase") for Thor. A part of Denmark's Norse heritage, "Thor" here is Kirsti's name for a kitten. Annemarie finds that funny because the kitten looks like it'd run from thunder. There could also be a symbolic meaning since Thor is seen as the protector of humanity, and the kitten appears in scenes leading up to Peter and Uncle Henrik helping Jews to escape the Nazis.
skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands
His strong hands continued, deftly pressing like a pulse against the cow.
struck with fear, dread, or consternation
She was startled. And
dismayed. It was a question she did not want to be asked. When she asked it of herself, she didn’t like her own answer.
"Fear," "dread" ("fearful expectation or anticipation"), and "consternation" ("fear resulting from the awareness of danger") are all synonymous emotions that Annemarie feels because Uncle Henrik had just asked her, "How brave are you?" Usually, that question is followed by something dangerous, and in this case, it is lying to Nazi soldiers (twice), so that the escape plan would work.
humorously sarcastic or mocking
“It is the hearse,” he said. “It is Great-aunt Birte, who never was.” He smiled wryly.
dignified and somber in manner or character
The hearse had gone, and the
solemn-faced men who had carried the casket indoors had gone with it, after speaking quietly to Uncle Henrik.
Kirsti had gone to bed reluctantly, complaining that she wanted to stay up with the others, that she was grownup enough, that she had never before seen a dead person in a closed-up box, that it wasn’t fair.
old and twisted and covered in lines
He stared beyond the
gnarled apple tree into the darkness.
She heard—as if in a
recurring nightmare—the pounding on the door, and then the heavy, frighteningly familiar staccato of boots on the kitchen floor.
characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance
He placed one gloved hand on its lid. “Poor Great-aunt Birte,” he said, in a
"Condescension" means "showing arrogance by patronizing those considered inferior" or "a communication that indicates lack of respect"--both fit the action and attitude of the officer (whose higher rank would make more people seem inferior to him), who believes he can barge into a funeral, who is being disrespectful with his hand on the lid, and who is expressing fake sadness for a woman he never knew and suspects does not exist.
remain present although waning or gradually dying
Surely typhus germs wouldn’t
linger in a dead person!
put out, as of fires, flames, or lights
He relit the
wrap around with something so as to cover or enclose
It is he who heals the broken in spirit
binds up their wounds,
he who numbers the stars one by one.
mark with small spots
Outside, she knew, the sky was
speckled with stars. How could anyone number them one by one, as the psalm said? There were too many. The sky was too big.
After a moment of
rummaging through the folded things, he found a smaller winter jacket, and handed it to Ellen.
showing signs of wear and tear
Never had Ellen worn anything so
shabby and old.
appeal or request earnestly
The mother tightened her arms around the baby and looked up at Peter,
pleading. “Please, no,” she said. “She always sleeps all night. Please, she doesn’t need it, I promise. She won’t cry.”
collect in one place
He looked around the room, at the
assembled people now dressed in the bulky winter clothing, and then motioned to Mr. Rosen, who followed him to the hall.
Annemarie could see it
protruding from Mr. Rosen’s pocket when he returned to the room and sat down again.
now and then or here and there
Annemarie realized that it was the first time that she had heard Peter Neilsen call her mother by her first name; before, it had always been “Mrs. Johansen”; or, in the old days, during the merriment and excitement of his engagement to Lise, it had been,
a disorderly outburst or tumult
There was a slight
commotion outside the door, and Mama went quickly to look out.
so badly formed or distorted as to be ugly
Annemarie looked at the Rosens, sitting there, wearing the
misshapen, ill-fitting clothing, holding ragged blankets folded in their arms, their faces drawn and tired.
Her foot caught the loose step and she
faltered for a moment, righting herself, then dashed across the ground to the place where her mother lay.
draw back, as with fear or pain
winced in pain.
an ungainly posture with arms and legs spread about
“Can you believe it? I was very nearly here—well, maybe just halfway—when I tripped over a root and went
The definition is for "sprawling" as a noun, but the example sentence is using the word as a verb. The definition for the verb "sprawl" is "sit or lie with one's limbs spread out" but this is missing the key adjective "ungainly" ("lacking grace in movement"). Mama is embarrassed about tripping, which forced her to sprawl; and she is more embarrassed by its result: "Your proper mama, crawling inch by inch! I probably looked like a drunkard!"
grievously affected especially by disease
Her face was
Mama's ankle is grievously affected by a swelling, and her stricken face could be partly due to physical pain, but it is mostly because of her realization that the fallen packet means that the escape could be doomed.