"The Grapes of Wrath," Vocabulary from Chapters 9-15

Desperation and poverty drive the Joad family from the home they have always known in "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. Seeking new jobs in California, the book follows the family as they journey not just physically, but emotionally, to what they hope is a new beginning. Learn this word list that focuses on moving.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-8, Chapters 9-15, Chapters 16-19, Chapters 20-24, Chapters 25-30

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. tenant
    someone who pays rent to use property owned by someone else
    In the little houses the tenant people sifted their belongings and the belongings of their fathers and of their grandfathers.
    "Tenant" comes from the Latin "tenere" which means "to hold" but the farmers had either sold their lands to or rented them from the banks, so they can't hold onto their way of life when the banks want them out. Having lost their tenancy, the farmers now test their tenacity ("persistent determination") on the road.
  2. ruthless
    without mercy or pity
    The men were ruthless because the past had been spoiled, but the women knew how the past would cry to them in the coming days.
  3. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    They stood and watched them burning, and then frantically they loaded up the cars and drove away, drove in the dust.
  4. implement
    a piece of equipment or a tool used for a specific purpose
    When the truck had gone, loaded with implements, with heavy tools, with beds and springs, with every movable thing that might be sold, Tom hung around the place.
  5. efficient
    able to accomplish a purpose
    Al sat bent over the wheel, proud and serious and efficient, and Pa and Uncle John, as befitted the heads of the clan, had the honor seats beside the driver.
  6. inveterate
    But Winfield was still a trifle of a snot-nose, a little of a brooder back of the barn, and an inveterate collector and smoker of snipes.
    "Inveterate" comes from the Latin "inveterare" which means "to make old"--Winfield is only ten years old, so the adjective does not fit him as much as it would his grandparents, who are creatures of habit and do not adjust well to the move.
  7. rout
    defeat with dire consequences
    They had assailed the buyer, argued; but they were routed when his interest seemed to flag and he had told them he didn’t want the stuff at any price.
  8. hearth
    home symbolized as a part of the fireplace
    The ancient Hudson, with bent and scarred radiator screen, with grease in dusty globules at the worn edges of every moving part, with hub caps gone and caps of red dust in their places—this was the new hearth, the living center of the family; half passenger car and half truck, high-sided and clumsy.
  9. ornery
    having a difficult and contrary disposition
    “She’s old an’ she’s ornery,” he said gravely.
    Compare this definition and example sentence to "cantankerous"--the two words are synonymous, but "cantankerous" describes an old man while "ornery" describes an old truck. Note the pronoun "she" which is often used to refer to vehicles; used by the sixteen-year-old Al who "don’t think of nothin’ but girls and engines" it has a prideful tone, since Al had picked her out and was the only one who knows how to drive and fix her (before Tom unexpectedly showed up).
  10. eminent
    standing above others in quality or position
    Indeed his position was eminent, for Uncle John moved sideways, leaving space between Pa and himself for the preacher.
  11. revulsion
    intense aversion
    And the revulsion spread to the rest. “Whyn’t we go? Get sleep on the way.”
  12. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    Pa said, “Al, go down, wake up Granma, Grampa. Tell ’em to come an’ eat. We’re goin’ before long.” And as Al sauntered toward the barn, “Muley, ya wanta squeeze in with us an’ go?
  13. vitality
    a healthy capacity for vigorous activity
    And when a horse stops work and goes into the barn there is a life and a vitality left, there is a breathing and a warmth, and the feet shift on the straw, and the jaws champ on the hay, and the ears and the eyes are alive.
  14. forlorn
    marked by or showing hopelessness
    They saw Muley standing forlornly in the dooryard looking after them.
  15. migrant
    traveler who moves from one region or country to another
    Highway 66 is the main migrant road.
  16. tributary
    a branch that flows into the main stream
    From all of these the people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads.
  17. caravan
    a procession traveling together in single file
    The people in flight streamed out on 66, sometimes a single car, sometimes a little caravan.
  18. apprehensive
    mentally upset over possible misfortune or danger
    And the men driving the trucks and the overloaded cars listened apprehensively.
    "Apprehensive" also means "quick to understand"--this definition does not fit the example sentence, because many of the men who are listening to their vehicles might apprehend a sound of trouble but might not apprehend the mechanics of fixing it; another reason the men are apprehensive is that they don't have the money to spend on parts and repairs.
  19. hasten
    act or move at high speed
    And he hastened to explain. “Road is full a people, come in, use water, dirty up the toilet, an’ then, by God, they’ll steal stuff an’ don’t buy nothin’. Got no money to buy with. Come beggin’ a gallon gas to move on.”
  20. recede
    become faint or more distant
    The old eyes looked up at Ma in pain and bewilderment for a moment before the awareness receded again.
  21. strew
    spread by scattering
    He said boldly, “His guts was just strewed all over—all over”—he was silent for a moment—“ strewed—all—over,” he said, and then he rolled over quickly and vomited down the side of the truck.
  22. hospitality
    kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
    The appeal to hospitality had an instant effect.
  23. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
    And the hole drove down, for the work never diminished in speed.
  24. transgression
    the violation of a law or a duty or moral principle
    “This here’s a nice one, just blowed full a religion: ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’
    "Transgression" also means "the action of going beyond some boundary or limit"--although the biblical verse is focused on sinning (which makes it humorously appropriate for Grampa), both definitions fit the situation, since Grampa's soul is going beyond the boundary of life while his body is being unlawfully buried on the side of the road.
  25. interval
    a definite length of time marked off by two instants
    Few passenger cars went by on the highway now, but the transport trucks thundered by at intervals and put little earthquakes in the ground.
  26. anlage
    an organ in its earliest stage of development
    Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote.
  27. restive
    being in a tense state
    A half-million people moving over the country; a million more restive, ready to move; ten million more feeling the first nervousness.
  28. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
    And Al, morosely, Where ya think they get them big cars and stuff?
  29. lumber
    move heavily or clumsily
    Mae watched them get into the great truck, watched it lumber off in low gear, and heard the shift up the whining gears to cruising ratio.
  30. streamlined
    designed to offer the least resistant to fluid flow
    On 66 the traffic whizzed by, trucks and fine streamlined cars and jalopies; and they went by with a vicious whiz.
    "Streamlined" also means "made efficient by stripping off nonessentials"--this definition would not apply to the fine cars, but it would eventually apply to the jalopies of the migrant families. The word also emphasizes the line of cars streaming by, in a whiz considered "vicious" (this could describe the cars' speeding sounds and possible impacts, and the growing anger of the displaced migrants).

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