Author Archives: Jhoanna


Shantytown (noun) – a usually poor town or section of a town consisting mostly of shanties

Taken from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “You in America”

“They trooped into the shantytown house in Lagos, standing beside the nail-studded zinc walls because chairs did not go round, to say good bye in loud voices and tell you with lowered voices what they wanted you to send them.”

Shantytown was ysed to describe the area that the narrator lives in. Knowing the meaning of this word helped me understand that she grew up in poverty and explains why the peolle in her place yearns for that “American dream”, to get away from their poor situation.



  • Bemoan (verb)
    -to express deep grief or distress over

Taken from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “You In America”

“You knew by people’s reactions that you were abnormal—the way the nasty ones were too nasty and the nice ones too nice. The old white women who muttered and glared at him, the black men who shook their heads at you, the black women whose pitiful eyes bemoaned your lack of self-esteem, your self-loathing.”

When the protagonist started being in relationship with the “white man”, people’s reaction towards them wasn’t really accepted with open arms. Their relationship was criticize with even just how strangers look at them. Black women for instance feels bad and sympathetic towards the protagonist because they think she is only in relationship with a white man because of her lack of self esteem. Bemoan/bemoaned was on this context to describe this feeling of those Black women. Knowing the meaning of the word made me understand how judgmental they are for thinking this way.



Expiation (noun)
– the act of making an atonement

– make amends or reparations for

Taken from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “You In America”

“You wanted to write about the way people left so much food on their plates and crumpled a few dollar bills down, as though it was an offering, expiation for the wasted food.”

After finding a job at a local restaurant, the protagonist wanted to send letter to her family about her experiences at work and such, one instances is the text above. Expiation on this context meant to show that some customers leave a couples bucks in order feel better about themselves for wasting so much food. Knowing the definition of the word “expiation”, I’ve learned that the customer’s thought process about their wasteful action is that it will somewhat clear their conscience.



Lassitude (noun)
– a condition characterized by lack of interest, energy, or spirit
– a state of physical or mental weariness

Taken from Nella Larsen’s “Quicksand”

“Days, weeks, passed; outwardly serene; inwardly tumultuous. Helga met Dr. Anderson at the social affairs to which often they were both asked. Sometimes she danced with him, always in perfect silence. She couldn’t, she absolutely couldn’t, speak a word to him when they were thus alone together, for at such times lassitude encompassed her; the emotion which had gripped her retreated, leaving a strange tranquility, troubled only by a soft stir of desire.”

The word lassitude on this text was used by Nella Larsen to convey the muddled feeling of Helga Crane towards Dr. Anderson after their sudden that had transpired right at the end of chapter eighteen. Helga’s perception of Dr. Anderson became even more complicated that she doesn’t know how to perceive the situations when they are alone together within the text. Because of this, I’ve come to understand at this moment that Helga is in fact attracted and maybe even in love with Dr. Andersen because of her actions.

New Oxford American Dictionary


Vicious (Adjective)
– dangerously aggressive
– (of an act) intending to hurt badly, or (of a person or animal) likely to be violent

Taken from Cynthia Ozick’s “The Shawl”

“——Magda was dumb. Even the laugh that came when the ash-stippled wind made a clown out of Magda’s shawl was only the air-blown showing of her teeth. Even when the lice, head lice and body lice, crazed her so that she became as wild as one of the big rats that plundered the barracks at daybreak looking for carrion, she rubbed and scratched and kicked and bit and rolled without a whimper. But now Magda’s mouth was spilling a long vicious rope of clamor.”

In Cynthia Ozick’s “The Shawl, vicious was used to show Magda’s feelings when the shawl was taken away from her. It was said that even though she had other problems such as lice, she didn’t care, not a single cry about it, just as long as she have the shawl. Because of the use of “vicious” within the text, I was able to understand that the shawl is really important for Magda more than anything. Even though she doesn’t talk, the way she expressed herself in this way makes the reader somewhat empathize with her .



Monotonous (Adjective) / Monotonously (Adverb)
– lacking in variety; tediously unvarying
-dull, tedious, and repetitious; lacking in variety and interest

Taken from Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl”

“If she could have thrown off that wrong hearted love, she would have, but the thought of the other man, who lived across the lake, was with her always. She became a gray sky, stared monotonously at the walls, sometimes wept into her hands for hours at a time. “

Erdrich used the word monotonously to show how Aanakwad lacks any interest towards her husband and that she no longer feels like doing anything anymore because she is unhappy as one can be.

Image result for monotonous person



Reliability of the “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” narrator

“What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie is about the narrator’s , Jackson Jackson, story about his quest on obtaining $1000 in order to buy his grandmother’s long lost ceremonial regalia. What follows is a tale of Jackson’s tendencies at being irresponsible keeping the money he collected and instead ending up spending it on other things.

While I think that most of us will assume or get the hunch that Jackson is bound to fail on his task, he still ended up getting the regalia back anyway. This is because in the eyes of those around him, he’s a reliable man. His encounter with other people in different situations showed his generous and kind personality, which earned their trust, hence why he was successful in the end. For example, after waking up before Junior, Jackson constantly checked if he was still breathing, making sure his friend is alright. He also didn’t want to bring in the police into the situation about stealing of the regalia, he wanted to work hard for it instead. When Jackson won some money from a scratch lottery ticket, he gave twenty dollars as a small token to the clerk, Mary, saying that “When you win, you’re supposed to share with your family.” He also treated his “new friends” and fellow Indians to drinks and bought breakfast for the Aleuts he met at the wharf. Even though Jackson is in a difficult situation himself, he still acted out of goodness to others. His altruistic gestures was reciprocated with other people aiding him back, like the Big Boss giving him free newspapers to sell, when the police officer chipped in thirty bucks to help and ultimately the pawnbroker offering the regalia at no charge.

As a narrator tho, it is difficult to say if Jackson is a credible one, whether his story is true since its authenticity is quiet questionable. Made up stories tend to make the story teller in a positive image. You could say he is a good story teller tho if it were all just fictional events, like he said, “we Indians are great storytellers and liars and mythmakers”. I guess it entirely up to the readers whether to believe Jackson’s story is genuine as can be.


Exalted (Adjective) – In a state of extreme happiness.

Taken from Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, Chapter 19

“Helga Crane never forgot it. She had carried away from yesterday’s meeting a feeling of increasing elation. It had seemed to her that she hadn’t been so happy, so exalted, in years, if ever.“

In this context, Larsen used the word exalted to describe even further how elated Helga is to meet with Dr. Anderson whom she is attracted on.


Thomas Wolfe’s “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn”

“Only The Dead Know Brooklyn” is a short story by Thomas Wolfe written entirely in “Brooklynese” accent. At first, I had difficulty understanding what I was reading due to the fact that I was not quiet familiar of the dialect that was being used. But, as the story progresses, I’ve come to appreciate this because it shows more insight unto the characters backgrounds and environment — plus I thought it adds “realness” and “life” to it.

Including the narrator telling the story, we get to meet three other unnamed characters described as the “big guy”, “little guy” and “wise guy”.

“Big guy” was asking directions to “Bensonhoist” (Bensonhurst without the dialect), while the “little guy” didn’t know much about Brooklyn, the narrator helped out the “big guy” instead, but, then came in the “wise guy” that gave a different route that causes a little friction between him and the narrator. Before any trouble starts, the narrator and “big guy” gets into the train and discussed more about the city. The narrator learned that the reason why the “big guy” is looking for Bensonhurst is because he “just goin’ out to see duh place” and he “like duh sound of duh name – Bensonhoist”. The “big guy” proceeds to show the narrator a map that displays the places he visited so far or where he wants to go next; like Flatbush, Bay Ridge, and Red Hook. Although the narrator finds this odd, the two men continued talking till they got to the topic of swimming and drowning. Realizing the strange behavior of the “big guy” about drowning, concluding that he’s insane, the narrator then decided to get off the train before his stop.

Personally, I thought the story was quiet comical. When the narrator and “wise guy” gave out two different directions, it’s funny because this truly pictures the subway system of NYC, for those who are familiar, New York subway is laid out in superfluous manner that you can go to a certain place with more than one different route. So if you think about it, “Wise Guy” and narrator can both be right either way. Another thing, the characters have trouble communicating and making a connection because of their different perspectives — like the narrator & “wise guy” unto the Bensonhurst direction and “big guy” communicating in a metaphorical way while the narrator is more of a practical and literal guy. The “big guy” is all about discovering more through his explorations of the city, but the narrator dismisses this and keeps a narrow mind, instead, he thinks it’s dangerous, that “it’s a good place to stay away from”, even though he’s probably never been there. I also think the these two men reflects how there are two types on how people face life in general, one who is on pursuit of knowledge and curious as to what is out there, while the other one who is content at what is already right in front of him and in the comfort of knowing already instead of going further.


  • Elusive (Adjective) – tending to evade grasp or pursuit /hard to comprehend or define

Taken from Kate Chopin’s “The Story of An Hour”

“The was something coming to her and she was waiting for, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name.”

Chopin used the word elusive to describe the unknown feeling that Mrs. Mallard is experiencing. It was use to fully show that Mrs. Mallard is at the point of thinking something unpleasant and complicated after her husband’s death, which is actually the sense of being glad that she’s finally free despite of a bad event.