"The Secret Garden," Vocabulary from Chapters 13-17

Mary Hodgson Burnett's beloved "The Secret Garden" finds a way to make its surly protagonist, Mary Lennox, happy in a way that rings true (etext found here). Learn this word list that focuses on anger and sadness.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-6, Chapters 7-12, Chapters 13-17, Chapters 18-22, Chapters 23-27

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. torrent
    a violently fast stream of water or other liquid
    It was pouring down in torrents and the wind was "wuthering" round the corners and in the chimneys of the huge old house.
    "Wuther" is a word used only in British English, and it means "to blow strongly with a roaring sound"--the wuthering and torrential weather matches Mary's miserable and angry mood, because it prevents her from working with Dickon in the secret garden. It also matches Colin's fretful crying, motivates Mary to find the crier, and foreshadows a later conflict between the two.
  2. mournful
    filled with or evoking sadness
    The mournful sound kept her awake because she felt mournful herself.
  3. rebellious
    discontented as toward authority
    Perhaps the fact that she was in a rebellious mood made her bold.
  4. wretched
    very unhappy; full of misery
    My mother died when I was born and it makes him wretched to look at me.
  5. obliged
    under a moral obligation to do something
    "Every one is obliged to do what pleases me," he said indifferently. "It makes me ill to be angry. No one believes I shall live to grow up."
  6. accustom
    familiarize psychologically or physically
    He said it as if he was so accustomed to the idea that it had ceased to matter to him at all.
    Most people, especially children, are not accustomed to the idea of dying. But the key phrase here is "as if" because Colin really doesn't want to die, but everyone keeps telling him he will, so the words have ceased ("have an end in a temporal, spatial, or quantitative sense") to have much meaning. Also, because his birth caused his mother's death, Colin and his father do not place much value on his life.
  7. plead
    appeal or request earnestly
    "If you won't make them take you to the garden," pleaded Mary, "perhaps--I feel almost sure I can find out how to get in sometime.
  8. vex
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    Tha' doesn't know what he's like when anything vexes him.
  9. rouse
    cause to become awake or conscious
    If he'd been like he is most times he'd have throwed himself into one of his tantrums and roused th' house.
  10. agitated
    physically disturbed or set in motion
    "I don't know what to do!" cried agitated Martha.
  11. rave
    talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
    He just raved and said it'd be another hunchback like him and it'd better die.
  12. consequence
    the state of having important effects or influence
    Colin answered as if neither the doctor's alarm nor Mrs. Medlock's terror were of the slightest consequence.
  13. reproachful
    expressing reproof especially as a corrective
    Dr. Craven turned reproachfully to Mrs. Medlock.
    "Reproach" and "reproof" are synonymous nouns meaning "an act or expression of criticism and censure"--Dr. Craven turns away from Colin, whom he dares not criticize, to reproach, reprove, and censure (all synonymous verbs) Mrs. Medlock, whom he believes should've kept a better eye on Mary and prevented her from finding his secret patient.
  14. doleful
    filled with or evoking sadness
    So it was not very pleasant when she opened the door of her room, to see Martha standing waiting for her with a doleful face.
  15. condescend
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    Colin frowned and condescended to look at her.
  16. obstinate
    marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield
    She just grew sour and obstinate and did not care what happened.
  17. retort
    answer back
    "If you send Dickon away, I'll never come into this room again!" she retorted.
  18. fierce
    marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
    "Shall they, Mr. Rajah!" said Mary fiercely. "They may drag me in but they can't make me talk when they get me here. I'll sit and clench my teeth and never tell you one thing. I won't even look at you. I'll stare at the floor!"
  19. glare
    look at with a fixed gaze
    They were a nice agreeable pair as they glared at each other.
    The example sentence has both an ironic and pun-filled tone: Mary and Colin are fiercely arguing, not nicely agreeing, but they are agreeable ("conforming to your own feelings or nature") in their identical angry glares.
  20. sneer
    express through a scornful smile
    "A nice angel!" Colin sneered ferociously. "He's a common cottage boy off the moor!"
  21. pathetic
    deserving or inciting pity
    He was beginning to feel pathetic and sorry for himself--not for any one else.
  22. contradict
    prove negative; show to be false
    "You're not!" contradicted Mary unsympathetically.
  23. furious
    marked by extreme anger
    He was at once furious and slightly pleased, if a person could be both at one time.
  24. vixen
    a malicious woman with a fierce temper
    "If he'd had a young vixen of a sister to fight with it would have been the saving of him."
  25. ail
    cause physical suffering to and make sick or indisposed
    "Hysterics and temper are half what ails him."
  26. unrelenting
    She felt so sour and unrelenting that for a few minutes she almost forgot about Dickon and the green veil creeping over the world and the soft wind blowing down from the moor.
  27. mount
    go upward with gradual or continuous progress
    She flew along the corridor and the nearer she got to the screams the higher her temper mounted.
  28. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    "I felt the lump--I felt it," choked out Colin. "I knew I should. I shall have a hunch on my back and then I shall die," and he began to writhe again and turned on his face and sobbed and wailed but he didn't scream.
  29. solemn
    dignified and somber in manner or character
    Every rib could be counted and every joint of the spine, though Mistress Mary did not count them as she bent over and examined them with a solemn savage little face.
    "Solemn" also means "characterized by a firm belief in your opinions"--both definitions fit the situation because Mary is solemnly examining Colin's back as if she were a doctor, because she wants to prove her solemn statement: "There's nothing the matter with your horrid back--nothing but hysterics!"
  30. weariness
    temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work
    But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches and weariness for hours and days and months and years.

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