"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, hapters 7-14

In this classic autobiography, the accomplished poet and writer recounts her childhood and teenage years.

Here are links to our lists for the text: Chapters 1-6, Chapters 7-14, Chapters 15-20, Chapters 21-24, Chapters 25-30, Chapters 31-36

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. sobriquet
    a familiar name for a person
    In fact, even in their absence they could not be spoken of too harshly unless we used the sobriquet “They.”
  2. misgiving
    uneasiness about the fitness of an action
    The Depression must have hit the white section of Stamps with cyclonic impact, but it seeped into the Black area slowly, like a thief with misgivings.
  3. throes
    violent pangs of suffering
    The country had been in the throes of the Depression for two years before the Negroes in Stamps knew it.
  4. wretched
    very unhappy; full of misery
    A wretched feeling of being torn engulfed me.
  5. bombastic
    ostentatiously lofty in style
    But Uncle Willie was suffering under our father’s bombastic pressure, and in mother-bird fashion Momma was more concerned with her crippled offspring than the one who could fly away from the nest.
  6. brooding
    deeply or seriously thoughtful
    I don’t think she ever knew that a deep- brooding love hung over everything she touched.
  7. vexed
    troubled persistently especially with petty annoyances
    I was certainly very vexed with Bailey.
  8. pince-nez
    spectacles clipped to the nose by a spring
    Her white skin and the pince-nez that she dramatically took from her nose and let hang free on a chain pinned to her dress were factors that brought her a great deal of respect.
  9. leniency
    lightening a penalty or excusing from a chore
    She most often got them leniency, and they always brought in the vote.
  10. enunciation
    the articulation of speech with regards to intelligibility
    St. Louis teachers, on the other hand, tended to act very strictly, and talked down to their students from the lofty heights of education and whitefolks’ enunciation.
  11. unrelenting
    not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
    Their jobs and their family set them apart, but they were best known for their unrelenting meanness.
  12. reprobation
    severe disapproval
    There was no police investigation nor social reprobation.
  13. profane
    characterized by cursing
    He strung ordinary sentences together and they came out sounding either like the most profane curses or like comical poetry.
  14. tousle
    disarrange or rumple; dishevel
    She was so pretty and so quick that even when she had just awakened, her eyes full of sleep and hair tousled, I thought she looked just like the Virgin Mary.
  15. chide
    censure severely or angrily
    I was called Old Lady and chided for moving and talking like winter’s molasses.
  16. lurid
    glaringly vivid and graphic; marked by sensationalism
    Because of the lurid tales we read and our vivid imaginations and, probably, memories of our brief but hectic lives, Bailey and I were afflicted—he physically and I mentally.
  17. apprehensive
    mentally upset over possible misfortune or danger
    I wasn’t afraid, a little apprehensive, maybe, but not afraid.
  18. quandary
    state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options
    It was the same old quandary.
  19. abate
    become less in amount or intensity
    Then she picked me up in her arms and the terror abated for a while.
  20. flippant
    showing inappropriate levity
    Grandmother Baxter’s clients were there in gay and flippant array.
  21. impudent
    marked by casual disrespect
    When I refused to be the child they knew and accepted me to be, I was called impudent and my muteness sullenness.
  22. obscure
    remote and separate physically or socially
    After St. Louis, with its noise and activity, its trucks and buses, and loud family gatherings, I welcomed the obscure lanes and lonely bungalows set back deep in dirt yards.
  23. resignation
    acceptance of an unpleasant but inevitable situation
    The resignation of its inhabitants encouraged me to relax.
  24. inequity
    injustice by virtue of not conforming with standards
    Their decision to be satisfied with life’s inequities was a lesson for me.
  25. exploit
    a notable achievement
    Bailey regaled the customers with our exploits.

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