Saturday, January 6, 2018

Grapes of Wrath - Vocabulary (from the California excerpt)

1. a horde – a huge army, usually savage and barbaric

2. a land grant – a gift of land, given by the government, in this case to encourage Americans to come and live in California.

3. frantic – crazy and in a panic, desperate, like when the Titanic sank.

4. to turn the earth – to aerate the soil for farming (with a plow).

5. a squatter – someone who lives illegally on someone else’s land.

6. feral – wild

7. to gnaw – to chew, like a dog on a bone.

8. lust – desire, usually sexual, but not in this passage of The Grapes of Wrath.

9. to reckon – to guess, or estimate (it’s slang).

10. drought – when it doesn’t rain, and the land dries out, killing farm crops.

11. fierceness – strength coming from anger, when you frighten others.

12. to dribble away – to melt like snow, slowly, when it drips away.

13. to follow Rome – to repeat the social system and mistakes of Rome.

14. to act funny – in this passage, to cause trouble and complain.

15. a serf – a slave who works on farmland, coming from medieval times. This emphasizes the barbarity of this system, that 20th century business men could treat farm workers like it was the middle ages.

16. to stoop – to bend down and pick something up, like when you drop your pen. You have to stoop to get it. You wouldn’t want to do this all day, it would hurt your back.

17. a scythe – a long cutting tool for cutting tall grass and wheat. It has a very long pole and a long, curved blade on one end. It’s a common tool of the grim reaper (death).

18. a penitent – a person who prays for forgiveness, on his knees.

19. a battery of bookkeepers – a group of accountants who calculate the worth of a farm.

20. to replenish soil – to add fertilizer and nutrients, so the land will still grow crops.

21. a straw boss – a manager (often with a straw hat) who keeps the other workers busy.

22. the dispossessed – the homeless, those who lost their homes.

23. dusted out – dust means prach. If your farm is dusted out, it means you went out of business because of drought – your land turned to dust.

24. tractored out – this means that a bank took your land, and hired a man with a tractor to do the same work that used to require ten families. So, you’re out of business.

25. to stream over the mountains – to travel slowly, in a little line, looking like a stream (potok).

26. restless – dissatisfied, looking for something better.

27. to scurry – to run around – the way you do when you’re frantic.

28. a burden – a difficulty. Anything heavy that you have to lift.

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