"Chains," Vocabulary from Chapters 23-33

The question of who gets to be free is addressed in "Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson. A thirteen year old girl, Isobel, sees that Freedom is all anyone can talk about during the Revolutionary War. Isobel realizes, however, that as a slave girl she will be denied freedom no matter who wins the war. So she decides to do something about it.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-11, Chapters 12-22, Chapters 23-33, Chapters 34-45

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. crescent
    a shape resembling the curved shape of the new moon
    I laid my head and hands in the crescents carved into the wood.
  2. jeer
    laugh at with contempt and derision
    Men at the front of the crowd called us names and jeered.
  3. vermin
    any of various small animals or insects that are pests
    The room was warm and quite small but entirely free of dirt, vermin, and mice.
  4. repugnant
    offensive to the mind
    I find the buying and selling of children most repugnant.
    The Latin "repugnare" means "to fight against"--ideally, if people find an activity repugnant (most people would agree that adjective fits the buying and selling of children), they should fight against it.
  5. intemperate
    given to excessive indulgence of bodily appetites
    “My nephew’s wife is stubborn as well as intemperate.”
  6. insist
    be emphatic or resolute and refuse to budge
    "Anne insists that you be returned to her household as soon as you are able."
  7. weariness
    temporary loss of strength and energy from hard work
    A wave of weariness crashed over me at the thought of serving Madam again, of allowing her to see her mark upon my face every day.
  8. affection
    a positive feeling of liking
    “While you lay in the fever, you spoke of them with great affection, as if they were in the room with us.”
  9. hesitate
    pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness
    She hesitated for a moment, then picked up her skirts.
  10. compote
    dessert of stewed or baked fruit
    Even better was the meal of fried eggs, toasted bread, and a fruit compote of pears and apples topped with strawberries and cream.
  11. crinoline
    a stiff coarse fabric used to stiffen hats or clothing
    She had changed into a peach-colored crinoline gown and was pulling on lace gloves.
    This was the material used in the complex dresses women wore during the novel's eighteenth century setting. The word's Italian root "crino" suggests that one of the materials used to stiffen the fabric was horsehair.
  12. churn
    stir cream vigorously in order to make butter
    I preferred the chores that took me out of the kitchen, for it was there the bees tricked me into seeing Ruth’s ghost playing on the floor, churning butter, or counting out kernels of corn.
    The verb gives us a clear picture of what life was like when daily work to get our food required much more than making a trip to the supermarket.
  13. carcass
    the dead body of an animal
    I threw them into the kitchen fire, along with the mouse carcasses and rotted potatoes.
  14. ensure
    make certain of
    She said my mark would ensure I stayed out of trouble.
  15. scowl
    a facial expression of dislike or displeasure
    Hours later, as I ate my dinner of greens and cornbread with molasses, Becky entered the kitchen with a scowl.
  16. conscience
    a feeling of shame when you do something immoral
    “Do you want his beating on your conscience?” she continued.
    While the chosen definition is stirred up by the question, the example sentence's use of "conscience" suggests more of a place for feelings than the feeling itself; thus, the obsolete definition of "consciousness" might be a better fit here.
  17. sabotage
    destroy property or hinder normal operations
    “We should sabotage the barricades."
  18. noxious
    injurious to physical or mental health
    Their bodies gave off noxious odors, too, gases so strong they made my eyes water.
  19. abide
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    "But with this heat and the flies, you just know the wounds will be maggoty by morning, and if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s the sight of maggots in living flesh.”
    Compare with "brook" in the list for Chapters 1-11--although the verbs are synonymous, the levels of tolerance are not, since foolishness, when compared to maggots in living flesh, seems less unpleasant and easier to put up with.
  20. devour
    destroy completely
    It seemed to me that if God really wanted the Americans to win, He would have sent sea monsters to devour the fleet when it left Boston.
  21. shard
    a broken piece of a brittle artifact
    I crawled through the window, taking care not to cut myself on the glass shards jutting out of the frame.
  22. ajar
    slightly open
    Several of the grand mansions of lower Broadway stood with their doors ajar.
  23. gust
    a strong current of air
    A gust of wind blew and carried with it the first hint of fall: canoe-shaped chestnut leaves, turned yellow round the edges.
  24. disembark
    exit from a ship, vehicle, or aircraft
    The waterfront was awash in red now as boatloads of soldiers disembarked.
  25. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    “Sal?” called Master Elihu Lockton, thinner from his exile, eyes bloodshot and wary.
  26. dragoon
    a member of a European military unit formerly composed of heavily armed cavalrymen
    At the Middle Dutch Church they pulled out the pulpit, the pews, and the floorboards and let the horses of the Light Dragoons practice.
  27. fiery
    like or suggestive of a flame
    Fiery shingles floated from the roof and caught in the branches of the tree outside my window, setting the bark ablaze.
  28. ignite
    start to burn or burst into flames
    I felt the clothes on my back ready to ignite.
  29. destitute
    completely wanting or lacking
    Many hundreds of families have lost their all; and are reduced from a state of affluence to the lowest Ebb of Want and Wretchedness destitute of Shelter, Food or Clothing.
    As the structure of the sentence suggests, "destitute" and "wretchedness" ("a state of ill-being due to misfortune") describe a state that is the opposite of "affluence" ("abundant wealth").
  30. cobbler
    a person who makes or repairs shoes
    One man, found with rosin and brimstone-tipped slivers of wood in his pocket, was tossed into a burning cobbler shop, another was quickly executed with a bayonet through the chest.
    Nowadays, the word "cobbler" is more likely to bring up an image of "a pie made of fruit with rich biscuit dough on top" than a description of a job that no longer exists--this is a vivid image of how much sweeter life is in America since the eighteenth century.
  31. apoplexy
    a loss of consciousness from the lack of oxygen in the brain
    The doctor said it was an apoplexy brought on by the fire.
  32. affliction
    a condition of suffering or distress due to ill health
    She tried to thank me, but the affliction pulled at her mouth and made it hard to figure her words.
  33. spite
    feeling a need to see others suffer
    I heard her grumble to Lockton that “the old biddy will never die, just to spite us.”
  34. victuals
    a source of materials to nourish the body
    Whilst they plotted Washington’s downfall, I dozed in a chair in the hallway in case they needed victuals or a bottle of port.
  35. tattered
    worn to shreds; or wearing torn or ragged clothing
    Their uniforms were torn and tattered.

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