Chapters 2–4

This semi-autobiographical novel recounts the story of a Japanese family attempting to flee Korea and return home at the end of World War II.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. churn
    be agitated
    My stomach was churning with fright.
  2. vigorous
    characterized by forceful and energetic action or activity
    The vigorous voice was shouting in the Korean language. "One, two, three, four!"
  3. scurry
    move about or proceed hurriedly
    Everywhere there was hustling, running, scurrying here and there to assist patients, adults and children.
  4. mobilize
    make ready for action or use
    "He left this morning for the ammunition factory where he will work with the mobilized students."
  5. symmetrical
    exhibiting equivalence or correspondence among constituents
    I could not see the patients' faces, but my eyes gradually became used to the darkness and I saw that the people were symmetrically arranged on cheaply woven straw mats.
  6. commotion
    a disorderly outburst or tumult
    There was a commotion outside. Someone was shouting and asking if there was any room in our boxcar.
  7. soot
    black powder formed when fuel such as wood or coal is burned
    The next I knew, the nurse was slapping my face. We were out of the tunnel. Mother was there, her face streaked with soot. Ko's face looked the same.
  8. arrogant
    having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance
    The night advanced. The cruel, arrogant air blew in. I put my coat on and lent my blanket again to the new mother and baby.
  9. gallantly
    in a heroic or brave manner
    Mother said she would go and help and Ko said she would go too. They jumped gallantly from the car.
  10. torrent
    an overwhelming number or amount
    Far, far below me the torrents of water made a roaring sound.
  11. yearn
    desire strongly or persistently
    When the rising sun sent a soft light between the trees, Ko built a small fire and Mother cooked rice. How I yearned for fresh vegetables and a fine cup of tea.
  12. vivid
    having the clarity and freshness of immediate experience
    I remembered Hideyo's words vividly. "Someday you'll wish you had these carrots."
  13. chemise
    a loose-fitting dress hanging straight from the shoulders
    She opened her sack, took out her chemise, and wrapped it around my chest.
  14. sheath
    a protective covering, as for a knife or sword
    Then she said, "Finished," wiped the thin blade carefully, and put it into the sheath. She held the slender sheath out in front of her, and bowed.
  15. munition
    weapons considered collectively
    Hideyo, working with three friends from Nanam, was packing assembled machine guns into thick, metal-lined wooden boxes. He had been at the munitions factory five days.
  16. reluctant
    not eager
    "Line up!" the voice commanded. There were reluctant footsteps toward the front of the room.
  17. cubicle
    small area set off by walls for special use
    Shoichi and Shinzo came from the same cubicle, shaking, their faces ghostly white.
  18. stealthily
    in a manner marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
    Stealthily they crept to their bunkroom next to the washroom. They crammed belongings into their rucksacks.
  19. ration
    the food allowance for one day
    Mother had packed only six days' rations for Hideyo, as he had expected to go home the next afternoon for the weekend, so he had only some strips of fish and dried biscuits.
  20. desolation
    an event that results in total destruction
    Makoto surveyed the desolation before them. "The Korean Communist troops have been here," he said.
  21. attire
    clothing of a distinctive style or for a particular occasion
    The wall clock, ski shoes, radio, collections of wooden tops he used to play with on the ice, fountain pens, his kimonos as well as formal attire were all gone.
  22. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    He hurried to Shoichi's house, meeting no one on the street and feeling the silence ominous.
  23. assail
    attack someone physically or emotionally
    The stench assailed their nostrils.
  24. precaution
    a measure taken in advance to ward off impending danger
    "We are Koreans. But not members of the Communist Party," Hideyo answered carefully in the Korean language. He was taking every possible precaution.
  25. reminisce
    recall the past
    They cooked the last of their rice and shared the water from the canteens. They lay in the mountain bush, reminiscing about their wonderful friendship.
Created on March 9, 2021 (updated March 15, 2021)

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