Chapters 8–11

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. tote
    carry with difficulty
    She gave me both of these to carry while she toted the huge wrapping cloth bundle.
  2. converse
    carry on a discussion
    The trash man had not burned the trash when I showed up after school. I conversed with him, very slowly. I told him Kyoto was much warmer than northern Korea.
  3. prestigious
    having an illustrious reputation; respected
    On the board was a huge drawing of me with my rucksacks, picking up trash in the furnace room. Under the drawing was writing. "Democratic System! Prestigious Sagano Accepts Trash-Picker as Student."
  4. cremate
    reduce to ashes
    The police telephoned a funeral service and two men came. They asked Ko what type of casket we wanted. Ko said we had no money, but was there some way we could cremate the body?
  5. afterthought
    an addition that was not included in the original plan
    Then I said as an afterthought, "Mother told me to hang on to the wrapping cloth."
  6. earnestly
    in a sincere and serious manner
    "But we can sleep without worrying about thieves or being attacked,” I said, earnestly wishing she would never again bring up the word "station.”
  7. ordeal
    a severe or trying experience
    The three uniforms became pieces and bits. I took them to the stream, rubbed the bar of soap on each piece, and pounded them with a wooden stick I had borrowed from a factory worker. I pounded especially where the material was stained with blood, trying hard to forget the ordeal we had gone through.
  8. wasteful
    tending to squander
    As I left the furnace room one day I noticed a cart full of cans and empty bottles. What was he doing with them? I asked.
    “I sell them,” he said. “The girls are very wasteful. Most of their fathers are prestigious and the girls are badly spoiled.”
  9. negotiate
    discuss the terms of an arrangement
    She said the government had just opened a new port, Maizuru, for refugees arriving from Korea and Manchuria. Also the government had been negotiating with Russia to let the remaining Japanese come home.
  10. vicinity
    a surrounding or nearby region
    All that Saturday we stayed in the vicinity of the port to sell our items.
  11. billfold
    a pocket-sized case for holding paper money
    When he saw me he took out his billfold and handed me five yen, saying I had done well collecting cans and should keep it up.
  12. ware
    commodities offered for sale
    Many people were buying things from the pushcarts, and I looked for a good busy spot to display my wares.
  13. eaves
    the overhang at the lower edge of a roof
    Leaving my small rucksack with all the things I had bought by the stairway, I went to the back side of the warehouse, beneath the eaves, where Ko had made a small hibachi with stones.
  14. reverent
    feeling or showing profound respect or veneration
    But she received her wooden rice bowl of green tea reverently in both hands, sipped it slowly, and let the tears roll down her face.
  15. sarcastic
    expressing or expressive of ridicule that wounds
    In it I had criticized the Sagano Girls' School students for snobbish behavior, but this made little difference in the way my classmates treated me. Perhaps they were not so mean and sarcastic in the days that followed, but they were very cold.
  16. textile
    of or relating to fabrics or fabric making
    The Corporal had taken over his father's silk thread and textile business, which had been passed down from ancestors who had woven materials for the lord of the castle and his family.
  17. wrack
    smash or break forcefully
    Loneliness attacked me and once more sobs wracked my body.
  18. execute
    kill as a means of socially sanctioned punishment
    As they ate, the farmer made his decision. "If he should die or if anyone finds out we have rescued a Japanese boy, we will be betrayed for prize money and executed. Listen, everyone. The boy is going to be my nephew. His parents were killed by Japanese and he has come to live with us. Do you understand? This way we are not in danger."
  19. contract
    make or become more narrow or restricted
    They ate quickly and then Mrs. Kim crushed garlic, added warm water, and tried to feed Hideyo as Mr. Kim forced open his mouth. His throat contracted—he swallowed.
  20. bygone
    well in the past; former
    For a while I dreamed of happy bygone days.
Created on March 9, 2021 (updated March 15, 2021)

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