a process in which an organic substance is broken down
The yellow-jackets dig into the soft meat, and there is a smell of
ferment and rot.
The example sentence describes pears that are left to rot because small farms can't afford to pick, pack, and ship the fruit to canneries; it also emphasizes that this situation will ferment the starving farmers into "a state of agitation or turbulent change or development."
sadness associated with some wrong done or disappointment
And the failure hangs over the State like a great
a public act of denouncing
There is a crime here that goes beyond
"Denounce" comes from the Latin "nuntiare" which means "to announce or report" and "nuntius" which means "messenger" but neither the roots nor the definitions "to accuse or condemn openly as disgraceful" and "to speak out against" is enough to address the crime of burning and wasting food that children could eat to avoid starving to death.
decay with an offensive smell
And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a
putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.
belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong
In the souls of the people the grapes of
wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
crush as if by stepping on
Tom laughed. “You jus’ a-treadin’ him on?”
When Tom asks Ma whether she is deliberately making Pa angry, she reveals, "Take a man, he can get worried an’ worried, an’ it eats out his liver, an’ purty soon he’ll jus’ lay down and die with his heart et out. But if you can take an’ make ’im mad, why, he’ll be awright."
angered at something unjust or wrong
“That kid says we was Okies,” he said in an
outraged voice. “He says he wasn’t no Okie ’cause he come from Oregon. Says we was goddamn Okies. I socked him.”
a sudden numbing dread
pall had fallen on Ruthie and Winfield. They did not dash away to inspect the place. They stayed close to the truck, close to the family.
As a verb, "pall" can mean "become less interesting or attractive"--after life in a clean and cooperative government camp, moving to a dusty place palls for Ruthie and Winfield. The use of the noun "pall" could foreshadow misfortune, not only because of its connection to "numbing dread" but also to a "burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped."
marked by extreme anger
Tom saw a line of men standing in the ditch beside the road, saw their mouths open as though they were yelling, saw their shaking fists and their
in the manner of someone eager to fight
“A fella got to eat,” he began; and then,
belligerently, “A fella got a right to eat.”
stretched out and lying at full length along the ground
Tom stood over the
prostrate man. And then a club reached his head, a glancing blow.
“They killed ’im. Busted his head. I was standin’ there. I went nuts. Grabbed the pick handle.” He looked
bleakly back at the night, the darkness, the flashlights, as he spoke.
a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
Her eyes were blazing with
an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
Ruthie came near, in her hands two large boxes of Cracker Jack, in her eyes a brooding question, which on a nod or a shake of Ma’s head might become
tragedy or joyous excitement.
a foul-smelling outflow or vapor
A skunk padded heavily and unself-consciously down the trail, carrying a faint
effluvium with him.
severe and unremitting in making demands
“Tom,” she said sternly. “You take this money. You hear me? You got no right to cause me pain.”
misery resulting from affliction
‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif’ up his fellow, but
woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up.’
sad beyond comforting; incapable of being consoled
The pickers clustered disconsolately back to the barnyard and stood in line to be paid off.
lacking brilliance or vitality
The girl’s eyes were
wet through and through; thoroughly wet
Then from the tents, from the crowded barns, groups of
sodden men went out, their clothes slopping rags, their shoes muddy pulp.
burn slowly and without a flame
They splashed out through the water, to the towns, to the country stores, to the relief offices, to beg for food, to cringe and beg for food, to beg for relief, to try to steal, to lie. And under the begging, and under the cringing, a hopeless anger began to
flow in a circular current, of liquids
eddied and boiled against the bank.
An eddy is "a miniature whirlpool"--this definition and the verb "boiled" make the movement of the stream sound more violent, which is more evident in the following description: "the streams thundered under the churning freshets." While the rain and streams actually create conflicts, they also represent the overall sorrowful and turbulent nature of the characters' current lives (similar to the dust and heat at the beginning of the novel).
walk with great difficulty
floundered in the mud and dug their wheels down until finally the drivers cut off the motors and sat still, looking into the headlight beams.
The air was
fetid and close with the smell of the birth.
lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness
On a newspaper lay a blue
shriveled little mummy.
appeal or request earnestly
“Did we slip up?” he
pleaded. “Is they anything we could of did?”
nervous and unable to relax
The family huddled on the platforms, silent and
sudden violent winds, often accompanied by precipitation
The rain had become intermittent now—little wet
squalls and quiet times.
in a vicious manner
“We’re a-gettin’ outa here,” she said
savagely, “gettin’ to higher groun’.
very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
He was about fifty, his whiskery face
gaunt, and his open eyes were vague and staring.