Chapters 1–3

In this classic coming-of-age story, Scout Finch recounts her childhood in Maycomb, Alabama. When Scout's father is appointed to defend a black man in a high-profile trial, racial tensions in the small town come to a head.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. assuage
    cause to be more favorably inclined
    When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury.
  2. apothecary
    a health professional trained in the art of preparing drugs
    All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trapping apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess.
  3. stricture
    severe criticism
    Mindful of John Wesley's strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practicing medicine, but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel.
  4. dictum
    an authoritative declaration
    So Simon, having forgotten his teacher's dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens.
  5. chattel
    personal as opposed to real property
    So Simon, having forgotten his teacher's dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens.
  6. taciturn
    habitually reserved and uncommunicative
    Their sister Alexandra was the Finch who remained at the Landing: she married a taciturn man who spent most of his time lying in a hammock by the river wondering if his trot-lines were full.
  7. unsullied
    spotlessly clean and fresh
    Atticus's office in the courthouse contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checkerboard and an unsullied Code of Alabama.
  8. dispatch
    kill without delay
    The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare, were imprudent enough to do it in the presence of three witnesses...
  9. imprudent
    not sensible, responsible, or wise
    The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare, were imprudent enough to do it in the presence of three witnesses...
  10. cowlick
    a tuft of hair in a different direction from the rest
    As he told us the old tale his blue eyes would lighten and darken; his laugh was sudden and happy; he habitually pulled at a cowlick in the center of his forehead.
  11. teem
    be full of or abuzz with
    Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies.
  12. vapid
    lacking significance or liveliness or spirit or zest
    But by the end of August our repertoire was vapid from countless reproductions, and it was then that Dill gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
  13. morbid
    suggesting the horror of death and decay
    Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people's chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker's Eddy, people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions.
  14. predilection
    a predisposition in favor of something
    The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb.
  15. profane
    characterized by cursing
    The town decided something had to be done; Mr. Conner said he knew who each and every one of them was, and he was bound and determined they wouldn't get away with it, so the boys came before the probate judge on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, and using abusive and profane language in the presence and hearing of a female.
  16. nebulous
    lacking definite form or limits
    Boo's transition from the basement to back home was nebulous in Jem's memory.
  17. gouge
    force with the thumb
    "I hope you've got it through your head that he'll kill us each and every one, Dill Harris," said Jem, when we joined him. "Don't blame me when he gouges your eyes out.
  18. concession
    a point that is yielded
    Jem stood in thought so long that Dill made a mild concession: "I won't say you ran out on a dare an' I'll swap you The Gray Ghost if you just go up and touch the house."
  19. foray
    a sudden short attack
    Jem threw open the gate and sped to the side of the house, slapped it with his palm and ran back past us, not waiting to see if his foray was successful.
  20. condescend
    do something that one considers to be below one's dignity
    Jem condescended to take me to school the first day, a job usually done by one's parents, but Atticus had said Jem would be delighted to show me where my room was.
  21. apprehensive
    in fear or dread of possible evil or harm
    The class murmured apprehensively, should she prove to harbor her share of the peculiarities indigenous to that region.
  22. wallow
    delight greatly in
    I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers.
  23. sentimentality
    extravagant or affected feeling or emotion
    In Calpurnia's teaching, there was no sentimentality: I seldom pleased her and she seldom rewarded me.
  24. entail
    limit the inheritance of property to specific heirs
    After a dreary conversation in our living room one night about his entailment, before Mr. Cunningham left he said, "Mr. Finch, I don't know when I'll ever be able to pay you."
  25. vexation
    something or someone that causes anxiety
    Entailment was only a part of Mr. Cunningham's vexations.
  26. mortification
    strong feelings of embarrassment
    If I could have explained these things to Miss Caroline, I would have saved myself some inconvenience and Miss Caroline subsequent mortification, but it was beyond my ability to explain things as well as Atticus, so I said, "You're shamin' him, Miss Caroline. Walter hasn't got a quarter at home to bring you, and you can't use any stovewood."
  27. sojourn
    a temporary stay
    My sojourn in the corner was a short one.
  28. dispensation
    an exemption from some rule or obligation
    Jem's free dispensation of my pledge irked me, but precious noontime minutes were ticking away.
  29. expound
    add details, as to an account or idea
    Atticus was expounding upon farm problems when Walter interrupted to ask if there was any molasses in the house.
  30. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    She was furious, and when she was furious Calpurnia's grammar became erratic.
  31. iniquity
    an unjust act
    Jem and Walter returned to school ahead of me: staying behind to advise Atticus of Calpurnia's iniquities was worth a solitary sprint past the Radley Place.
  32. contemptuous
    expressing extreme scorn
    He gave a short contemptuous snort.
  33. truant
    one who is absent from school without permission
    "Whole school's full of 'em. They come first day every year and then leave. The truant lady gets 'em here 'cause she threatens 'em with the sheriff, but she's give up tryin' to hold 'em. She reckons she's carried out the law just gettin' their names on the roll and runnin' 'em here the first day. You're supposed to mark 'em absent the rest of the year..."
  34. contentious
    showing an inclination to disagree
    "Ain't got no mother," was the answer, "and their paw's right contentious."
  35. fractious
    easily irritated or annoyed
    She had always been too hard on me, she had at last seen the error of her fractious ways, she was sorry and too stubborn to say so.
  36. amiable
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    He waited in amiable silence, and I sought to reinforce my position: "You never went to school and you do all right, so I'll just stay home too. You can teach me like Granddaddy taught you 'n' Uncle Jack."
  37. populace
    people in general considered as a whole
    In Maycomb County, hunting out of season was a misdemeanor at law, a capital felony in the eyes of the populace.
  38. begrudge
    allow unwillingly or reluctantly
    "It's against the law, all right," said my father, "and it's certainly bad, but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains. I don't know of any landowner around here who begrudges those children any game their father can hit."
  39. disapprobation
    pronouncing as wrong or morally culpable
    "I'm afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities."
  40. discernible
    capable of being perceived clearly
    Atticus kept us in fits that evening, gravely reading columns of print about a man who sat on a flagpole for no discernible reason, which was reason enough for Jem to spend the following Saturday aloft in the treehouse.
Created on July 25, 2018 (updated July 25, 2018)

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