cause to separate and go in different directions
In the last part of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were
"Dissipate" also means "spend frivolously and unwisely"--this definition does not fit the example sentence, but it will soon be a rare action in the lives of the Joads, and it was used in an introductory description of the author Steinbeck: "His work demanded his attention so fully that he finally refused to dissipate his energy in extra-literary pursuits."
flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet.
wear away by rubbing
frayed and edged back toward their roots.
The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like
showing inventiveness and skill
During a night the wind raced faster over the land, dug cunningly among the rootlets of the corn, and the corn fought the wind with its weakened leaves until the roots were freed by the prying wind and then each stalk settled wearily sideways toward the earth and pointed the direction of the wind.
The use of the adverb "cunningly" to describe the wind personifies it as a clever villain that fights with the corn by digging and uprooting so that it could only accuse its murderer with the position of its fallen body.
cut or make a way through
When the night came again it was black night, for the stars could not
pierce the dust to get down, and the window lights could not even spread beyond their own yards.
a mixture of liquids that do not normally stay mixed
Now the dust was evenly mixed with the air, an
emulsion of dust and air.
move as if through a sieve
All day the dust
sifted down from the sky, and the next day it
sifted down. An even blanket covered the earth.
perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
After a while the faces of the watching men lost their
bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant.
an indirect (and usually malicious) implication
His voice had the same quality of secrecy and
insinuation his eyes had.
working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
The questions of the driver had the tone of a
rich in implication
The driver looked significantly at the fields along the road where the corn was fallen sideways and the dust was piled on it.
shine with a weak or fitful light
He looked out over the fields, at the
shimmering air, and gathering his gum into his cheek, out of the way, he spat out the window.
in a petulant manner
“Well, it ain’t no goddamn cinch,” he said
walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
plodded along, dragging his cloud of dust behind him.
cause to feel resentment or indignation
“Goin’ someplace,” Joad explained, a little
exert much effort or energy
strove against the sun.
The willows of a stream lined across the west, and to the northwest a fallow section was going back to
a gradual decline (in size or strength or power or number)
Now that the sun was on the
wane some of its impact was gone, and while the air was hot, the hammering rays were weaker.
Snub-nosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines.
"Snub" is used as an adjective here, but as a verb, it means "refuse to acknowledge" or "reject outright and bluntly" and as a noun, it means "an instance of driving away and warding off"--all these definitions also fit how the tractors and drivers interact with the tenant farmers who are being plowed out of their land and house.
ask for or request earnestly
He did not know or own or trust or
beseech the land.
shrink, as with a loss of moisture
If the young thrusting plant
withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.
prepared for raising crops by plowing or fertilizing
Where the dooryard had been pounded hard by the bare feet of children and by stamping horses’ hooves and by the broad wagon wheels, it was
cultivated now, and the dark green, dusty cotton grew.
Muley’s face was smooth and unwrinkled, but it wore the
truculent look of a bad child, the mouth held tight and small, the little eyes half scowling, half petulant.
"Petulant" means "easily irritated or annoyed" and "scowl" means "frown with displeasure"--these two words describe the truculent look of Muley, whose name is also indicative of his mood ("mulish" means "unreasonably rigid in the face of argument or entreaty or attack").
remain present although waning or gradually dying
A large red drop of sun
lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going.
lacking material form
The sky grayed among the stars, and the pale, late quarter-moon was
insubstantial and thin.
a feeling of anger and animosity
Now all dogs met and
hackles rose, and they all growled and stood stiffly, each waiting for the others to start a fight.
a feeling of ill will arousing active hostility
Two rangy shepherd dogs trotted up pleasantly, until they caught the scent of strangers, and then they backed cautiously away, watchful, their tails moving slowly and tentatively in the air, but their eyes and noses quick for
animosity or danger.
having a difficult and contrary disposition
cantankerous, complaining, mischievous, laughing face. He fought and argued, told dirty stories. He was as lecherous as always.
"Lecherous" means "given to excessive indulgence in sexual activity"--both adjectives describe Grampa, who seems to embody both the life-affirming and conflict-creating qualities of heat and dust.
feeling a need to see others suffer
His little eyes glittered with
malice. “Lookut him,” he said. “A jailbird. Ain’t been no Joads in jail for a hell of a time.”