The Vocabulary of "Tom Sawyer" -- Chapter 2
A New Chapter with New Words:
Chapter two of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" picks up where chapter one left off: with a bevy of adventure and better-than-useful vocabulary. The words seem to bounce off the pages with life and reverberation--making the reader long for more. Yes. Mark Twain had a tight grip on how to weave vernacular. And we, his readers, have much to enjoy... and learn! So without further adieu...
Melancholy: A feeling of sadness, gloom, or depression of spirit; or a deep, contemplative manner of looking at life--with a certain incidence in mind.
For me, the word melancholy has always surfaced feelings of reflection; especially during an event in life requiring deeper-than-normal review and thought. Although typically used in a negative fashion, melancholy holds an alternative meaning--as expressed by Twain in "Tom Sawyer" prior to the whitewashing adventure. In Twain's context, the word is used to depict a sort of: "Look at this overwhelming task facing me. Oh how I wish I were somewhere else" type of feeling--as opposed to a sense of loss or morose. Used in this way, a more common coverage of the word could go like this: Just thinking of how his friends were basking away in summertime fun wrapped our reluctant hero in a blanket of melancholy.
Skylarking: A sense of delightful play; to frolic (another great word in itself) in joyful activity.
What a colorful word this is, and unfortunately, seldom used these days. Going along with Twain's wonderful sense of bringing animal-like qualities to people, skylarking perfectly fits such a mold. In today's conversations, I would love to hear descriptions such as this: There's nothing quite like a group of young children skylarking their way through a game of this, that, or marbles. Lovely!
Alacrity: A cheerful readiness, or promptness in response.
Here's an outstanding word that seems to be making a comeback, so to speak, as I've heard it used on a few occasions--of all places--during certain sporting events. Not that Twain was referring to football--or other games of sport--but rather a sense of inner joy resulting from his [Tom's] cunning fence-coating deception. As for today, I'd be more than pleased with the following context: My mother's eyes beamed as she welcomed her new daughter-in-law with alacrity and warmth of heart.
Muse(d): To think or meditate (usually in silence) as on some subject.
Muse is a word that scores a lot of use, but still makes my list because it's just a super word. That's it. To muse is to ponder, contemplate, and imagine alternative ways of looking at various objects, thoughts, philosophies, dreams, etc. in a way as to invoke creativity and/or further contemplation. The beauty of a crimson sunset percolates my heart to muse over its creation--bringing me peace.
Wend(ed): to make (one's way) in a particular direction; the process of making one's way in a particular direction.
Not often used today, the verb, wend, offers writers a unique way to describe the passage of space with a specific destination in mind. For example, to wend your way back home is to focus on the trip without too many outside distractions--quite possibly in a daydreaming state of mind, i.e. you have a destination in mind and you make it a point to get there. A good illustration of the word might sound like this: After an exciting day at the neighborhood ballfield, the boys and I wended our directions back home--mentally replaying the game the entire way.
Coming Up Soon... Chapter 3 & Beyond...
I'll try my best to update this series weekly as my time allows... so stay tuned for more stellar words from one of the best, Mark Twain.
More by this Author
These simple, easy-to-follow rose pruning tips will have your rose bushes bathing with blooms.
Mark Twain is without a doubt one of the most-endearing American authors of all time. His unique sense of descriptive language places readers literally within his stories. Coupled with his skill of crafting words, Mark...
Painting vinyl siding is one option many homeowners are choosing over complete vinyl siding replacement. The process, however, is much different that standard exterior house painting. This short tutorial on how to paint...