"Jacob Have I Loved" by Katherine Paterson, Rass Island–Chapter 2

Growing up on a remote fishing island in the 1940s, Sara Louise attempts to escape the shadow of her talented and favored twin sister.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Rass Island–Chapter 2, Chapters 3–5, Chapters 6–9, Chapters 10–13, Chapters 14–20

Here are links to our lists for other works by Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia, Lyddie, The Great Gilly Hopkins
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definitions & notes only words
  1. steeple
    a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building
    Suddenly, though, the steeple of the Methodist Church will leap from the Bay, dragging up a cluster of white board houses.
  2. prim
    affectedly dainty or refined
    Next door, but standing primly aloof in a coat of fierce green paint, is Kellam’s General Store with the post office inside, and behind them, on a narrow spine of fast land, the houses and white picket fences of the village.
  3. aloof
    remote in manner
    Next door, but standing primly aloof in a coat of fierce green paint, is Kellam’s General Store with the post office inside, and behind them, on a narrow spine of fast land, the houses and white picket fences of the village.
  4. semblance
    an outward appearance that is deliberately misleading
    It is the excess of snowball bushes that lends a semblance of green to every yard.
  5. hull
    the frame or body of a ship
    In the belly of the hull, fore and aft of the engine are a dozen or so barrels waiting for the next day’s catch, a spare crab pot or two, looking like a box made of chicken wire, and a few empty bait baskets.
  6. fore
    near or toward the bow of a ship or cockpit of a plane
    In the belly of the hull, fore and aft of the engine are a dozen or so barrels waiting for the next day’s catch, a spare crab pot or two, looking like a box made of chicken wire, and a few empty bait baskets.
  7. aft
    near or toward the stern of a ship or tail of an airplane
    In the belly of the hull, fore and aft of the engine are a dozen or so barrels waiting for the next day’s catch, a spare crab pot or two, looking like a box made of chicken wire, and a few empty bait baskets.
  8. winch
    a lifting device consisting of a cylinder turned by a crank
    Near the winch that pulls the line of pots up from the floor of the Chesapeake is a large washtub.
  9. cull
    look for and gather
    Into it each crab pot will be emptied and from it the legal-sized crabs—hard, peeler, and soft—will be culled from their smaller kin as well as from the blowfish, sea nettles, seaweed, shells, and garbage, all such unwelcome harvest as the Bay seems ever generous to offer up.
  10. shard
    a broken piece of a brittle artifact
    I chose the spot with care, for cordgrass alone is rough enough to rip the skin, and ours often concealed a bit of curling tin or shards of glass or crockery or jagged shells not yet worn smooth by the tides.
  11. crockery
    ceramic dishes used for serving food
    I chose the spot with care, for cordgrass alone is rough enough to rip the skin, and ours often concealed a bit of curling tin or shards of glass or crockery or jagged shells not yet worn smooth by the tides.
  12. brackish
    slightly salty
    In my nostrils, the faint hay smell of the grass mingled with that of the brackish water of the Bay, while the spring wind chilled the tips of my ears and raised goosebumps along my arms.
  13. skiff
    a small boat propelled by oars or by sails or by a motor
    During the summer of 1941, every weekday morning at the top of the tide, McCall Purnell and I would board my skiff and go progging for crab.
  14. musing
    a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
    “Do you suppose,” I asked, as I poled the skiff, the focus of my romantic musings shifting from my own wedding day to Mr. Rice’s, “do you suppose her parents oppose the marriage?”
  15. starboard
    right side of a ship or aircraft to someone facing the bow
    I shifted the pole to starboard.
  16. precarious
    not secure; beset with difficulties
    Call jerked his head around to give me one of his looks, but the washboards of a skiff are a precarious perch at best, so he didn’t stare long enough to waste time or risk a dunking.
  17. indulge
    give free rein to
    I stuck with him not only because we could work well together, but because our teamwork was so automatic that I was free to indulge my romantic fantasies at the same time.
  18. avid
    marked by active interest and enthusiasm
    I was an avid reader of Time magazine, which, besides the day-old Baltimore Sun, was our porthole on the world in those days, so although psychiatry was not yet a popular pastime, I was quite aware of the word, if not the fact that the p was silent.
  19. emphatic
    forceful and definite in expression or action
    “How can it be a joke? There ain’t neither funny about it.” He had broken into a waterman’s emphatic negative.
  20. quaint
    attractively old-fashioned
    Call’s cuss words were taught to him by his sainted grandmother and tended to be as quaint as the clothes she made for him.
  21. thwart
    a crosspiece spreading the gunnels of a boat
    I shipped the pole and moved up with him to the forward thwart, where we put the oars into the locks and rowed the boat out of the eelgrass into deeper water and around to the harbor.
  22. don
    put on clothes
    Immediately, the breeze took them straight out, as though Peter Pan had donned them to fly across our yard toward never-never land across the Bay.
  23. benevolent
    intending or showing kindness
    Caroline was shelling peas at the kitchen table. I smiled at my sister benevolently.
  24. shanty
    a small crude shelter used as a dwelling
    “Mercy, Wheeze, you stink like a crab shanty.”
  25. splurge
    indulge oneself
    It meant that I had made enough money that she could splurge and make she-crab soup for supper.
  26. undaunted
    unshaken in purpose
    My grandmother always complained that no good Methodist would ever put spirits into food. But my mother was undaunted.
  27. bask
    derive or receive pleasure from
    I was sitting there, basking in the day, thinking how pleased my father would be to come home from crabbing and smell his favorite soup, bathing my sister and grandmother in kindly feelings that neither deserved...
  28. shrapnel
    shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight
    If my father had not gone to France in 1918 and collected a hip full of German shrapnel, Caroline and I would never have been born.
  29. meager
    deficient in amount or quality or extent
    He worked on other men’s boats as strenuously as his slowly healing body would let him, eking out a meager living for himself and his widowed mother.
  30. midwife
    a woman skilled in aiding the delivery of babies
    When my mother and grandmother told the story of our births, it was mostly of how Caroline had refused to breathe. How the midwife smacked and prayed and cajoled the tiny chest to move.
  31. cajole
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    When my mother and grandmother told the story of our births, it was mostly of how Caroline had refused to breathe. How the midwife smacked and prayed and cajoled the tiny chest to move.
  32. lame
    disabled in the feet or legs
    There are few jobs in this world more physically demanding than the work of those men who choose to follow the water. For one slightly lame man alone on a boat, the work was more than doubled.
  33. consolation
    the comfort you feel when soothed in times of disappointment
    When I was six my father taught me how to pole a skiff so I could net crabs in the eelgrass near the shore. That was my consolation for not being allowed to go aboard the Portia Sue as his hand.
  34. likelihood
    the probability of a specified outcome
    In all likelihood he was the only waterman on the Chesapeake Bay whose boat was named for a woman lawyer out of Shakespeare.
  35. dolly
    a wheeled handcart for moving heavy objects
    She says she remembers meeting it at the dock and following while six men helped my father roll it on a dolly to our house, for there were no trucks or cars on the island.
  36. lugubrious
    excessively mournful
    My mother not being an islander and the islanders not being acquainted with pianos, no one realized at the beginning the effect of damp salt air on the instrument. Within a few weeks it was lugubriously out of tune.
  37. affluent
    having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
    For food, a night’s lodging, and the use of our piano, he tuned it and gave Caroline and me free lessons. The rest, children of the island’s slightly more affluent, paid fifty cents a lesson.
  38. vulgar
    lacking refinement or cultivation or taste
    Whenever I am tempted to dismiss the poor or uneducated for their vulgar tastes, I see the face of old Auntie Braxton, as she stands stock still in front of our picket fence, lips parted to reveal her almost toothless gums, eyes shining, drinking in a polonaise as though it were heavenly nourishment.
  39. waive
    do without or cease to hold or adhere to
    Not only did the man agree to take Caroline on as a private pupil, he waived the fee.
  40. rankle
    make resentful or angry
    I was proud of my sister, but that year, something began to rankle beneath the pride.

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