Category Archives: Glossary


defiant(adjective)- showing defiance.


On page 82 of Quicksand by Nella Larsen it says , “She felt a sharp stinging sensation and a recurrence of that anger and defiant desire to hurt which had so seared her on that past morning in Naxos”

After learning what the word meant, i think its important because it helps the characteristics of Helga and it gives a better understanding of what Helga is feeling. You get a better understanding of her character.


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.



  • Dingy (adjective)of a dark, dull, or dirty color or aspect; lacking brightness or freshness.
    • Source:
    • Taken from: A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
      • “It came into Mrs. Hale’s mind that the rocker didn’t look like Minnie Foster– The Minnie Foster of twenty years before. It was a dingy red, with wooden rungs up the back, and the middle run was gone and the chair sagged to one side”
    • Throughout the story, while discovering that Minnie Foster is guilty of her husband’s murder, Mrs. Hale reminisces back and forth between the Minnie Foster she once knew and the now Mrs. Wright. In the midst of going back and forth, Mrs. Hale acknowledges a red rocker that she describes as dingy. It may tend to be overlooked but within the definition of “lacking brightness”, we can also compare this to Mrs. Wrights life. In addition, to it becoming a dirty color, it also represents the time that has gone by from the last time Mrs. Hale knew of her.


  • Maligned (adjective):  having or showing an evil disposition; malevolent; malicious.
    • Source 
    • Taken From: I Always Write About My Mother When I Start to Write by Bia Lowe
      • “Like the prince trapped inside the body of the frog, that humble white cup, so maligned by the everyday, so misrepresented as a mere vessel, was a work of art waiting to occur.”
    • When the author uses the word maligned, it’s meant to be associated with maliciousness. However, something to remember is that the story is written from a child’s point of view. Therefore, by using the word maligned, the reader is able to understand the intensity of what the child feels. In the story, we have a child so in love and determined to please the mother, that when the word is used to compare their condition to a frog’s, we’re able to grasp the child feeling tortured by not being able to express their love to their mother.


  • Monument (noun):
    • (1) a lasting evidence, reminder, or example of someone or something notable or great
    • (2) : a memorial stone or a building erected in remembrance of a person or event
  • Source:
  • Taken from A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
    • “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant–a combined gardener and cook–had seen in at least ten years.”
  • Again, the word monument is a well-known word but when referring to Emily as a fallen monument it puts everything in perspective. From the story the reader eventually learns that the town doesn’t know much about Emily, to begin with. They know little to nothing about her, based on their assumptions of the few times she’s gone out to the public. By referring Emily as a fallen monument, although biased to the men’s perspective, the reader is still able to know the importance the town gave Emily even though all she was, was a stranger to them. The town seems to be driven to discover her as if she were a puzzle. At the end of the story, after they’ve found the dead body of her lover, the might have gotten a new perspective of her, maybe not so much a monument, but they still didn’t know her.


Vigil- An event or a period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits, prays, etc., especially at night

“The honor of his art forbade it. Naturally, none of the watchers understood that. Sometimes there were nightly groups of watchers who carried out their vigil very laxly, deliberately sitting together in a distant corner and putting all their attention into playing cards there, clearly intending to allow the hunger artist a small refreshment, which, according to their way of thinking, he could get from some secret supplies.” -The Hunger Artist

In this situation a group of people come by and fail to understand why the hunger artist is the way he is, trying to spare some refreshments and attention. The word perfectly describes this scenario as watchers look on to the artist, despite the signals given that means that their actions are unwelcomed.


Fatuity- Something foolish or stupid

“Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes—a kind of “debased Romanesque” with delirium tremens—go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity.” -The Yellow Wallpaper

Much of this story goes into detail describing the environment, many of these descriptions being heavily opinionated based on the context. There is an immense obsession over the wallpaper, thoughts going back and forth over it’s design. Fatuity in this case is being used to describe how strange, even nonsensical the wallpapers design is.


Tableau- A graphic depiction or representation

“None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.” -A Rose for Emily

The word falls in line with the dark themes found in the story through the use of negative descriptions and imagery. The story describes Emily’s character in detail based on an outsiders view, allowing the reader to see what the narrators say. The tone is set thanks to this information that is learned, hence why the word lends itself so nicely with this passage.


Exalted (verb)- to raise in rank, power, or character

“She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. ” –The Story of an Hour

The word was used in order to describe how Mrs. Mallard’s feelings were essentially enhanced at the moment. A sudden jump in her happiness is expressed at the very moment when she learns that her husband is dead, though also comes to an understanding that it is still a serious circumstance she would be stuck in.

  • Trivial (adjective): of very little importance or value; insignificant:
  • Source:
  • Taken from: The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin.
    • “A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial. She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. “`
  • Although it might have seemed trivial to search this word up, I’ve never actually had a clear definition of the word, so it was interesting to actually bother searching it up. In the story, Chopin uses it to describe Mrs. Mallard’s perceptions of her own feelings. It reveals a slight internal conflict between her feeling new and liberated, and guilt from not mourning her husband longer. However, by describing her doubt as trivial, the reader is able to understand how her newfound freedom overpowers any other emotion she may feel.


The Shawl by Louise Edrich

“But we still have sorrows that are passed to us from early generations, sorrows to handle in addition to our own and cruelties lodged where we cannot forget them. We have the need to forget. We are always walking on oblivion edge”

Oblivion: the state of being forgotten, especially by the public

As a Native American, the character/narrator in this passage is a part of American history that is not spoken about very often and even then is expressed in very vague and incomplete ways. His entire culture and his people are on the verge of extinction and they are very much like living ghost.