noun: a shackle for the ankles or feet

Verb:  to move along unsteadily or with difficulty; especially : to limp along

From Beloved

Tired of holding his head up, he lets his chin rest on the collar and speculates on how he can hobble over to the grate, boil a little water and throw in a handful of meal (227).


Multifaceted: having many facets or aspects

from You Pawn I will Redeem

Real change is a multifaceted organization that publishes a newspaper, supports cultural projects that empower the poor and the homeless, and mobilizes the public around poverty issues.


Aleut: a member of a people of the Aleutian and Shumagin islands and the western part of Alaska Peninsula

from You Pawn I will Redeem

When I got to the wharf, I ran into three Aleut cousins, who sat on a wooden bench and stared out at the bay and cried.


Viaduct: a long elevated roadway usually consisting of a series of short spans supported on arches, piers, or columns.

from You Pawn I redeem
Thinking hard we huddled in an alley beneath the Alaska way viaduct and finished off those bottles-one, two, and three.


Throng: multitude of assembled persons or a large number of persons.

Outside a throng, now, of black faces stopped murmuring. Holding the living child, Sethe walked past them in their silence and hers(152).


the act or process of manumitting; especially : formal emancipation from slavery

from Beloved
No more discussions, stormy or quiet, about the true meaning of the Fugitive Bill, the Settlement Fee, God’s Ways and Negro pews; antislavery, manumission, skin voting, Republicans, Dred Scott, book learning, Sojourner’s high-wheeled buggy, the Colored Ladies of Delaware, Ohio, and the other weighty issues that held them in chairs, scraping the floorboards or pacing them in agony or exhilaration (173).


Sword: a weapon (as a cutlass or rapier) with a long blade for cutting or thrusting that is often used as a symbol of honor or authority(173)

While Stamp Paid was making up his mind to visit 124 for Baby Suggs’
sake, Sethe was trying to take her advice: to lay it all down, sword and shield. Not just to acknowledge the advice Baby Suggs gave her, but actually to
 take it.
coercive power


Cradle: a bed or cot for a baby usually on rockers or pivots

a frame to keep the bedclothes from contact with an injured part of the body or

Finally she  lay back and cradled the crawling-already ? girl in her arm
from Beloved (94)


Wharf: a structure built along or at an angle from the shore of navigable waters so that ships may lie alongside to receive and discharge cargo and passenger.

Back on the wharf I stood near the Bainbridge Island Terminal and tried to sell papers to business commuters boarding the ferry.



There were no roads then, just trails, though we had horses and wagons, and for the winter sled.

SLED: A small vehicle consisting of a platform mounted on runners for use in travelling over snow or ice.

from The Shawl



There were no roads then, just trails, though we had horses and wagons, and for the winter sleds.

WAGON: A wagon is a heavy four-wheeled vehicle pulled by draught animals, used for transporting goods, commodities, agricultural materials, supplies, and sometimes people. Wagons are distinguished from carts, which have two wheels, and from lighter four-wheeled vehicles primarily for carrying people, such as carriages. Wagons are pulled by animals such as horses, mules or oxen. They may be pulled by one animal or by several, often in pairs or teams



The father bounded forward when he saw the tracks. He could see where the pack, desperate, had tried to slash the tendons of the horses’ legs.

TENDON: A tendon is a fibrous connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone. Tendons may also attach muscles to structures such as the eyeball.

from The Shawl


The was a board. A willow wand. And there was himself

WILLOW: any tree or shrub of the genius Salix, characterized by narrow, lance-shaped leaves and dense catkins bearing flowers.

From The Shawl