Long-Awaited Words from Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman"

The literary world is abuzz over Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," a sequel of sorts to her classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." Lee actually wrote "Go Set a Watchman" first, in 1957, when she was 31 years old. The novel is finally seeing the light of day and will be published on July 14. Here are words from the first chapter.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. recede
    become faint or more distant
    Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires.
  2. inevitable
    incapable of being avoided or prevented
    Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires.
  3. novelty
    originality by virtue of being refreshingly new
    Trains had changed since her childhood, and the novelty of the experience amused her: a fat genie of a porter materialized when she pressed a button on a wall; at her bidding a stainless steel washbasin popped out of another wall, and there was a john one could prop one’s feet on.
  4. porter
    a person employed to carry luggage and supplies
    Trains had changed since her childhood, and the novelty of the experience amused her: a fat genie of a porter materialized when she pressed a button on a wall; at her bidding a stainless steel washbasin popped out of another wall, and there was a john one could prop one’s feet on.
  5. resolve
    reach a decision
    She resolved not to be intimidated by several messages stenciled around her compartment—a roomette, they called it—but when she went to bed the night before, she succeeded in folding herself up into the wall because she had ignored an injunction to PULL THIS LEVER DOWN OVER BRACKETS, a situation remedied by the porter to her embarrassment, as her habit was to sleep only in pajama tops.
  6. injunction
    a formal command or admonition
    She resolved not to be intimidated by several messages stenciled around her compartment—a roomette, they called it—but when she went to bed the night before, she succeeded in folding herself up into the wall because she had ignored an injunction to PULL THIS LEVER DOWN OVER BRACKETS, a situation remedied by the porter to her embarrassment, as her habit was to sleep only in pajama tops.
  7. obedience
    the trait of being willing to obey
    ...can do it with my back turned,” he said, and did. When she awoke that morning the train was switching and chugging in the Atlanta yards, but in obedience to another sign in her compartment she stayed in bed until College Park flashed by. When she dressed, she put on her Maycomb clothes: gray slacks, a black sleeveless...
  8. stern
    serious and harsh in manner or behavior
    ...thought: I do not remember a line of that poem. Piping down the valleys wild? No. Did he write to a waterfowl, or was it a waterfall? She sternly repressed a tendency to boisterousness when she reflected that Sidney Lanier must have been somewhat like her long-departed cousin, Joshua Singleton St. Clair, whose private literary preserves stretched from...
  9. boisterous
    noisy and lacking in restraint or discipline
    ...a line of that poem. Piping down the valleys wild? No. Did he write to a waterfowl, or was it a waterfall? She sternly repressed a tendency to boisterousness when she reflected that Sidney Lanier must have been somewhat like her long-departed cousin, Joshua Singleton St. Clair, whose private literary preserves stretched from the Black Belt to Bayou...
  10. distorted
    so badly formed or out of shape as to be ugly
    ...irresponsible, where he remained for the rest of his days. They said he was reasonable in every respect until someone mentioned that president’s name, then his face would become distorted, he would assume a whooping crane attitude and hold it for eight hours or more, and nothing or nobody could make him lower his leg until he forgot about...
  11. decipher
    convert code into ordinary language
    ...Joshua read Greek, and he left a thin volume of verse printed privately by a firm in Tuscaloosa. The poetry was so ahead of its time no one has deciphered it yet, but Jean Louise’s aunt keeps it displayed casually and prominently on a table in the livingroom. Jean Louise laughed aloud, then looked around to see if...
  12. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    ...privately by a firm in Tuscaloosa. The poetry was so ahead of its time no one has deciphered it yet, but Jean Louise’s aunt keeps it displayed casually and prominently on a table in the livingroom. Jean Louise laughed aloud, then looked around to see if anyone had heard her. Her father had a way of undermining his...
  13. innate
    not established by conditioning or learning
    ...the livingroom. Jean Louise laughed aloud, then looked around to see if anyone had heard her. Her father had a way of undermining his sister’s lectures on the innate superiority of any given Finch: he always told his daughter the rest of it, quietly and solemnly, but Jean Louise sometimes thought she detected an unmistakably profane glint in...
  14. solemnly
    in a serious and dignified manner
    ...Her father had a way of undermining his sister’s lectures on the innate superiority of any given Finch: he always told his daughter the rest of it, quietly and solemnly, but Jean Louise sometimes thought she detected an unmistakably profane glint in Atticus Finch’s eyes, or was it merely the light hitting his glasses? She never knew. The...
  15. profane
    grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
    ...on the innate superiority of any given Finch: he always told his daughter the rest of it, quietly and solemnly, but Jean Louise sometimes thought she detected an unmistakably profane glint in Atticus Finch’s eyes, or was it merely the light hitting his glasses? She never knew. The countryside and the train had subsided to a gentle roll,...
  16. subside
    descend into or as if into some soft substance or place
    ...she detected an unmistakably profane glint in Atticus Finch’s eyes, or was it merely the light hitting his glasses? She never knew. The countryside and the train had subsided to a gentle roll, and she could see nothing but pastureland and black cows from window to horizon. She wondered why she had never thought her country beautiful. ...
  17. gnaw
    bite or chew on with the teeth
    ...clank and then s-sss-sss, white smoke comes up and you think you’re inside a chafing dish. These things run on oil now. For no reason an ancient fear gnawed her. She had not been in this station for twenty years, but when she was a child and went to the capital with Atticus, she was terrified lest the...
  18. derisive
    expressing contempt or ridicule
    ...the swaying train plunge down the riverbank and drown them all. But when she boarded again for home, she forgot. The train clacketed through pine forests and honked derisively at a gaily painted bell-funneled museum piece sidetracked in a clearing. It bore the sign of a lumber concern, and the Crescent Limited could have swallowed it whole with...
  19. predilection
    a predisposition in favor of something
    ...seat. Until comparatively recently in its history, Maycomb County was so cut off from the rest of the nation that some of its citizens, unaware of the South’s political predilections over the past ninety years, still voted Republican. No trains went there—Maycomb Junction, a courtesy title, was located in Abbott County, twenty miles away. Bus service was erratic and...
  20. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    ...political predilections over the past ninety years, still voted Republican. No trains went there—Maycomb Junction, a courtesy title, was located in Abbott County, twenty miles away. Bus service was erratic and seemed to go nowhere, but the Federal Government had forced a highway or two through the swamps, thus giving the citizens an opportunity for free egress. But few...
  21. egress
    the act or means of going out
    ...service was erratic and seemed to go nowhere, but the Federal Government had forced a highway or two through the swamps, thus giving the citizens an opportunity for free egress. But few people took advantage of the roads, and why should they? If you did not want much, there was plenty. The county and the town were named...
  22. overweening
    presumptuously arrogant
    ...they? If you did not want much, there was plenty. The county and the town were named for a Colonel Mason Maycomb, a man whose misplaced self-confidence and overweening willfulness brought confusion and confoundment to all who rode with him in the Creek Indian Wars. The territory in which he operated was vaguely hilly in the north and...
  23. meander
    move or cause to move in a winding or curving course
    ...plain. Colonel Maycomb, convinced that Indians hated to fight on flat land, scoured the northern reaches of the territory looking for them. When his general discovered that Maycomb was meandering in the hills while the Creeks were lurking in every pine thicket in the south, he dispatched a friendly Indian runner to Maycomb with the message, Move south, damn...
  24. lurk
    lie in wait or behave in a sneaky and secretive manner
    ...fight on flat land, scoured the northern reaches of the territory looking for them. When his general discovered that Maycomb was meandering in the hills while the Creeks were lurking in every pine thicket in the south, he dispatched a friendly Indian runner to Maycomb with the message, Move south, damn you. Maycomb was convinced this was a Creek...
  25. thicket
    a dense growth of bushes
    ...scoured the northern reaches of the territory looking for them. When his general discovered that Maycomb was meandering in the hills while the Creeks were lurking in every pine thicket in the south, he dispatched a friendly Indian runner to Maycomb with the message, Move south, damn you. Maycomb was convinced this was a Creek plot to trap him...
  26. primeval
    having existed from the beginning
    ...not a blue-eyed, red-headed devil leading them?), he made the friendly Indian runner his prisoner, and he moved farther north until his forces became hopelessly lost in the forest primeval, where they sat out the wars in considerable bewilderment. After enough years had passed to convince Colonel Maycomb that the message might have been genuine after all, he...
  27. exploit
    a notable achievement
    ...over. The troops and the settlers were friendly enough to become Jean Louise Finch’s ancestors, and Colonel Maycomb pressed on to what is now Mobile to make sure his exploits were given due credit. Recorded history’s version does not coincide with the truth, but these are the facts, because they were passed down by word of mouth through the...
  28. inequity
    injustice by virtue of not conforming with standards
    She was too old to rail against the inequity of it, but too young to accept her father’s crippling disease without putting up some kind of fight.
  29. disposition
    your usual mood
    Hardly like Atticus: if you asked him how he was feeling he would tell you, but he never complained; his disposition remained the same, so in order to find out how he was feeling, you had to ask him.
  30. profound
    far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect
    ...be silly,” she said. Although she was a respectable driver, she hated to operate anything mechanical more complicated than a safety pin: folding lawn chairs were a source of profound irritation to her; she had never learned to ride a bicycle or use a typewriter; she fished with a pole. Her favorite game was golf because its essential principles...
  31. effortless
    requiring or apparently requiring no work
    ...pole. Her favorite game was golf because its essential principles consisted of a stick, a small ball, and a state of mind. With green envy, she watched Henry’s effortless mastery of the automobile. Cars are his servants, she thought. “Power steering?
  32. induce
    cause to act in a specified manner
    Behind his lip were six false front teeth not even Jean Louise could induce him to take out and show her.
  33. grim
    harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance
    “He played all right,” said Henry grimly.

    Jean Louise moved under his arm. “You know what I mean,” she said.
  34. supplement
    add to what seems insufficient
    Atticus Finch looked after what little money there was from the sale of the store—her funeral expenses took most of it—he secretly supplemented it with money of his own, and got Henry a job clerking in the Jitney Jungle after school.
  35. fractious
    easily irritated or annoyed
    In the years when he was away at the war and the University, she had turned from an overalled, fractious, gun-slinging creature into a reasonable facsimile of a human being.
  36. facsimile
    an exact copy or reproduction
    In the years when he was away at the war and the University, she had turned from an overalled, fractious, gun-slinging creature into a reasonable facsimile of a human being.
  37. abjure
    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
    He began dating her on her annual two-week visits home, and although she still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment, he found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love.
  38. feminine
    associated with women and not with men
    He began dating her on her annual two-week visits home, and although she still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment, he found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love.
  39. adornment
    a decoration that is added to relieve plainness
    He began dating her on her annual two-week visits home, and although she still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment, he found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love.
  40. ignition
    the mechanism that sparks the fuel in a combustion engine
    He turned off the ignition switch, slewed around, and looked at her.
  41. bristle
    react in an offended or angry manner
    She knew when he became serious about something: his crew cut bristled like an angry brush, his face colored, its scar reddened.
  42. prim
    affectedly dainty or refined
    “Henry,” she said primly, “I’ll have an affair with you but I won’t marry you.”
  43. dispensation
    a share that has been distributed
    Henry sputtered, and forgetting the latest dispensations from General Motors, grabbed for a gearshift and stomped at a clutch.
  44. wrench
    a sharp strain on muscles or ligaments
    These denied him, he wrenched the ignition key violently, pressed some buttons, and the big car glided slowly and smoothly down the highway.
  45. appalling
    causing shock, dismay, or horror
    “Where’d you get that appalling tie?” she said. Now. She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible, she thought: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in...
  46. unequivocal
    admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding
    ...Now. She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible, she thought: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all. She was a person who, when confronted with an easy way...
  47. proposition
    a suggestion offered for acceptance or rejection
    ...either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all. She was a person who, when confronted with an easy way out, always took the hard way. The easy way out of this would be...
  48. fret
    be agitated or irritated
    ...few years, when the children were waist-high, the man would come along whom she should have married in the first place. There would be searchings of hearts, fevers and frets, long looks at each other on the post office steps, and misery for everybody. The hollering and the high-mindedness over, all that would be left would be another shabby...
  49. shabby
    showing signs of wear and tear
    ...frets, long looks at each other on the post office steps, and misery for everybody. The hollering and the high-mindedness over, all that would be left would be another shabby little affair à la the Birmingham country club set, and a self-constructed private Gehenna with the latest Westinghouse appliances. Hank didn’t deserve that. No. For the present she...
  50. perspicacious
    mentally acute or penetratingly discerning
    You are the most perspicacious individual I’ve met in years, you are six feet five, and may I light your cigarette?
Created on July 10, 2015 (updated July 10, 2015)

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