"Dead End in Norvelt," Vocabulary from Chapters 22-28

Jack Gantos's "Dead End in Norvelt" is a funny take on the typical autobiographical "growing up" novel which includes appearances by a sniper rifle, an obituary column and the Hell's Angels. Eleanor Roosevelt also plays an important role.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-7, Chapters 8-14, Chapters 15-21, Chapters 22-28

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. announce
    make known
    “It’s time,” Dad announced, and rubbed his hands together as he stood up from the breakfast table, “to get an elevated perspective on Norvelt.”
    Compare with "inform" in this list. Although not exactly synonyms, they both connect to making information known. But as shown in the example sentences, "announce" has a more powerful tone of voice.
  2. inform
    impart knowledge of some fact, state or affairs, or event to
    “If you don’t mind, I’ll watch from the porch,” Mom informed us, and stood up to clear the table.
  3. fuselage
    the central body of an airplane holding crew and passengers
    I gripped the tail and watched him make sure to stay out of the path of the propeller as he trotted around the wing and back to the fuselage, where he opened the flimsy cockpit door.
  4. scamper
    run or move about quickly or lightly
    Once I removed the chock I scampered back to the tail and waited.
  5. shallow
    lacking physical depth
    I ran and jumped into the shallow bomb shelter, then flipped myself over and peeked up over the edge.
  6. throttle
    a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine
    And then the wheels touched down and he bounced up a bit but stayed in control, and in a minute he cut back on the throttle and rolled right up to our end of the runway.
  7. shrill
    having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones
    “What is your father doing?” she hollered in a voice as shrill as the fire whistle.
  8. contempt
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    “That busybody is into everyone’s business,” Miss Volker remarked with contempt.
  9. bile
    a digestive juice secreted by the liver
    I could hear the bile in the pit of her stomach boiling and the words steaming up in her mouth before her lips parted.
    This word is used here in both its literal and figurative senses. The narrator begins the thought with the actual bile from inside the body and makes it represent the disposition of the person.
  10. ethical
    adhering to moral principles
    “But what the atomic bombing of Hiroshima should teach everyone is that you don’t win a war by being more moral or ethical or nicer or more democratic than your enemy."
  11. inhumane
    reflecting a lack of pity or compassion
    "We killed seventy thousand civilians in one atomic blink, and seventy thousand more died a little later on. No nation has ever before been this cruel and inhumane and killed more people so quickly in the whole bloody history of the world."
  12. grudge
    a resentment strong enough to justify retaliation
    Remember what the Bible teaches us, ‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’
  13. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and possessions
    Now, as I said, these were all poor white people and they should have seen beyond skin color that everyone had their desperation and poverty in common, as well as the same American dream for a better future for their children.
  14. fuss
    a quarrel about petty points
    The letter so moved the Roosevelts that they made sure the White family received a house and there was no more fuss about the issue of race.
  15. descendant
    a person considered as coming from some ancestor or race
    "Who would have guessed that years later the farm would become a stop for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. And then,” she said excitedly, “who would have further guessed it would be Mrs. White—perhaps a descendant of those very slaves—who named this new town which was built on equality.”
  16. editorial
    an article giving opinions or perspectives
    He printed an editorial in the paper that stirred everyone up.
  17. autopsy
    an examination and dissection of a dead body
    That was when the two troopers stepped forward and one of them said, “We have an order to take charge of the body and send it to the lab for a full autopsy. After that we’ll release it back to Mr. Huffer.”
  18. compel
    force somebody to do something
    We are a town built on justice, so we are compelled to get to the bottom of this situation.
  19. congregation
    a group of people who habitually attend a given church
    Churches were shut and locked for fear that worshipping God would lead to the death of the congregation.
  20. confession
    an admission of misdeeds or faults
    “I have a terrible confession to share,” she said, and lowered her fork.
  21. theory
    a belief that can guide behavior
    “Well, I have a news flash for you—we aren’t dead,” I said, “so that shoots down your poisoning theory.”
  22. ghastly
    shockingly repellent; inspiring horror
    But somewhere inside me I must have known I was onto something ghastly, because when I woke up in the morning my pillow looked like a big loaf of bread pudding soaked through with blood.
    Compare with "gruesome" in the list for Chapters 8-14. The adjectives are synonymous, but the situation described here contains a lot more horror than that of gruesome tattoos.
  23. flexibility
    the property of being easily bent or shaped
    She had enough flexibility in her hot fingers to pick up the receiver.
  24. rigor mortis
    temporary stiffness of joints and muscles after death
    “No unusual marks on her face,” Miss Volker announced, “other than the bruise from where she fell from the couch to the floor. Her belly’s not swollen. Her legs are contorted but that is just the rigor mortis having set in.”
  25. thorough
    performed comprehensively and completely
    I knew Miss Volker’s hands must have cooled down and would be seizing up, but she just took a deep breath and proved to the police that she could complete a thorough job.
  26. accommodate
    have room for; hold without crowding
    “She had high blood pressure, minor diabetes issues, and if you look at her foot you will see that one shoe is partially cut open across the side because she had gout in her foot, and the only way she could get her shoe on was to split the side to accommodate the swelling.”
  27. prodigy
    an unusually gifted or intelligent person
    As a child she was a violin prodigy who at the age of eleven played with the New York Philharmonic.
  28. accomplice
    a person who joins with another in carrying out some plan
    “Did you help her? She can’t use her hands so she must have had a murder accomplice.”
  29. deliberate
    unhurried and with care and dignity
    Every move she made was deliberate, as if she had already lived this moment a dozen times and had always done the right thing.
  30. inquisition
    a severe interrogation
    “They were like torture tools from the Spanish Inquisition.”
  31. flatter
    praise somewhat dishonestly
    Honestly, we never did get along so well as when he was telling me how he knocked off all those ladies. It was flattering that he killed them for me. He wanted to get them out of the way so my duty to Mrs. Roosevelt would be over and I would be free to run off with him.
  32. demented
    affected with madness or insanity
    “I should have known that tricycle was a clue to just how demented he was.”
  33. maniac
    an insane person
    “You never know until you go in for a second pass,” he said, and laughed like a maniac.
  34. hull
    the frame or body of ship
    Two red blotches had exploded against the black-and-white movie images and the red paint ran like bloody tears down the face of the screen as torpedoes skimmed across the water toward the hull of the Bismarck.
    Compare with "fuselage" in this list. The two words apply to different types of transportation, but they are nearly synonymous. One main difference is that "hull" can also refer to the outer covering of an object, whether it's a ship, rocket, or nut.
  35. column
    an article giving opinions or perspectives
    If Miss Volker was writing about it for her This Day In History column it might read: On the morning of August 17, Jack Gantos was released from being grounded by his parents.
    Compare with "editorial" in this list. Although the given definitions are identical, the nouns are not used synonymously in the example sentences: "editorial" referred to a specific article that was printed at a particular moment, while "column" refers to a series of related articles published regularly about a specific topic (and the text could be vertically divided from other articles).

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