Author Archives: Muhammad Qasim


Stenosis (noun) – a narrowing or constriction of the diameter of a bodily passage or orifice.


From: “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” by Junot Diaz

“The numbness in your arms and legs increases. You return to your doctors and they send you over to a neurologist, who sends you out for an MRI. Looks like you have stenosis all down your spine, the doctor reports, impressed.”

Here, the word stenosis is used to describe a condition that the narrator is suffering from. He is unable to lift heavy weights now. This shows that the narrator is getting older and probably won’t have the ability to actively date now. Also, due to the depression from his ex-girlfriend leaving him, the narrator is gaining weight and his spine is unable to support it.

Image result for stenosis


Erattic (adjective) – characterized by lack of consistency, regularity, or uniformity


From: “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” by Junot Diaz

“You’re fine for, like, a week. Then your moods become erratic. One minute you have to stop yourself from jumping in the car and driving to see her and the next you’re calling a sucia and saying, You’re the one I always wanted. You start losing your temper with friends, with students, with colleagues. You cry every time you hear Monchy y Alexandra, her favorite.”

The author uses the word erratic here to show how the feelings of the narrator are conflicted. He is unsure of what to do, and when to do it. The narrator’s fiancĂ©e leaves him after she finds out that he is cheating on her. Now, he is going through a period of grief and he wants to try and get her back, but a part of him wants to be with other women.  So, he is unable to maintain a consistent mood.


Grisly (adjective) – inspiring disgust or distaste


From: “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma” by  Junot Diaz

“By the time I was eleven, I was suffering from both depression and uncontrollable rage. By thirteen, I stopped being able to look at myself in the mirror—and the few times I accidentally glimpsed my reflection I’d recoil like I’d got hit in the face by a jellyfish stinger. (What did I see? I saw the crime, my grisly debasement, and if anyone looked at me too long I would run or I would fight.)”

Here, the narrator uses the word grisly to show how depression is causing him to see a gruesome decrease in character. He fears that depression is taking away the characteristics that define him. Also, depression is making him become an introvert because he doesn’t want to communicate with anybody or get attention from anybody.


Project 2 Glossary Annotation

  • Laceration  (noun) – a torn and ragged wound


From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, Chapter 15 Page 118

“Helga let that pass because she couldn’t, she felt, explain. It would be too difficult, too mortifying. She had no words which could adequately, and without laceration to her pride, convey to him the pitfalls into which very easily they might step. “I might,” she said, “have considered it once—when I first came. But you, hoping for a more informal arrangement, waited too long. You missed the moment. I had time to think. Now I couldn’t. Nothing is worth the risk. We might come to hate each other. I’ve been through it, or something like it. I know. I couldn’t do it. And I’m glad.”

Here, the word laceration is used to show that Helga does not want to hurt her pride to argue with Axel Olsen about marriage. Axel Olsen proposed Helga for marriage, but Helga refused it by using the excuse of racial difference. In her argument, Helga doesn’t want to marry a white man because she has suffered from the interracial marriage of her parents.


Project 2 Glossary Annotation:

  • Aped (verb) – to copy closely but often clumsily and ineptly

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From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, Chapter 9 Page 80

“She hated white people with a deep and burning hatred, with the kind of hatred which, finding itself held insufficiently numerous groups, was capable someday, on some great provocation, of bursting into dangerously malignant flames. But she aped their clothes, their manners, and their gracious ways of living. While proclaiming loudly the undiluted good of all things Negro, she yet disliked the songs, the dances, and the softly blurred speech of the race. Toward these things, she showed only a disdainful contempt, tinged sometimes with a faint amusement. Like the despised people of the white race, she preferred Pavlova to Florence Mills, John McCormack to Taylor Gordon, Walter Hampden to Paul Robeson.”

In this passage, the author depicts Helga as someone who would adapt to a better lifestyle to be accepted by the society, but keep her traditional values. Even though Helga hates white people, she follows their fashion and lifestyle. Helga also prefers the music that the white people like. This shows that Helga is conflicted between the African-American culture and the lifestyle of white people.


Pretentious (adjective) – making demands on one’s skill, ability, or means

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From “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larson” by Nella Larsen, “Quicksand” Chapter 17 Page 125

“The easement which it’s heedless abandon brought to her was a real, a very definite thing. She liked the sharp contrast to her pretentious stately life in Copenhagen.”

Here, the word pretentious is used to describe how Helga has established a life full of comfort and extravagant living in Copenhagen.


Tumult (noun) – disorderly agitation or milling about of a crowd usually with uproar and confusion of voices.


From “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larson” by Nella Larsen, “Quicksand” Chapter 20 Page 142

“About her the tumult and the shouting continued, but in a lesser degree.”

The word tumult is used to describe how the disturbing loud commotion gradually became lower.


Skirmish (noun) – a minor fight in war usually incidental to larger movements.

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From “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larson” by Nella Larsen, “Quicksand” Chapter 13 Page 100

“She came away from the coffee feeling that she had acquitted herself well in the first skirmish.”

In this statement, the word skirmish is used to describe how Helga was able to please the crowd that came to see her. She was worried about disappointing her aunt and uncle, so after successfully meeting with the people she felt lightened.


Avidity (noun) – keen eagerness or consuming greed.


From “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larson” by Nella Larsen, “Quicksand” Chapter 15 Page 112

“And she was shocked in with which Olsen beside her drank it in.”

Here, the author uses the word avidity to describe how Olsen is eager, while Helga is annoyed and feels shamed by the performance she went to see at Copenhagen vaudeville hall.



Ramification (noun) – the act or process of branching


From “The Complete Fiction of Nella Larson” by Nella Larsen, Page 43

“Negro society, she had learned, was as complicated and as rigid in its ramifications as the highest strata of white society.”

The author uses this word to describe how the Negro Society has many layers or branches in it. This shows that the Negro Society is big, and contains various divisions that are complex.