List 5

After they move from the Dominican Republic to New York City, the four García sisters are caught between the expectations of their traditional parents and their own desire to assimilate to American culture.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. patron
    someone who supports or champions something
    Inside is a cubicle with a vent that opens out above the shower in the bathroom. Air and a little light. A couple of towels, a throw pillow, a sheet, a chamber pot, a container of filter water, aspirin, sleeping pills, even a San Judas, patron of impossible causes, that Laura has tacked to the inside wall.
  2. conquistador
    a 16th-century Spanish conquerer of Peru and Mexico
    Then he puts her right side up and laughs a great big Conquistador laugh that comes all the way from the green, motherland hills of Spain.
  3. lackey
    a servile or submissive follower
    The grand manner will usually disarm these poor lackeys from the countryside, who have joined the SIM, most of them, in order to put money in their pockets, food and rum in their stomachs, and guns at their hips.
  4. swoon
    a spontaneous loss of consciousness
    Now, for instance, she is thinking of doing something wild and mad, sinking down in a swoon the way women used to in old movies when they wanted to distract attention from some trouble spot...
  5. roil
    be agitated
    Something pretty bad is on its way because with each step Tatica takes, the pain roils in her gut, trouble coming to full term.
  6. firebrand
    someone who deliberately foments trouble
    Old buddy introduced him around till he knew every firebrand among the upper-class fellas the State Department wanted him to groom for revolution.
  7. catechism
    an elementary book summarizing the principles of a religion
    Unfortunately, the nuns got to her young, and Vic has nodded himself silly several times to catechism lessons disguised as dinner conversations.
  8. alma mater
    a school you graduated from
    He pulls a chair out for his buddy. The chairs in his study bear the logo from their alma mater, Yale, which Vic notes the family mispronounces as jail.
  9. reflexive
    without volition or conscious control
    The two men turn and, almost reflexively, their hands travel to their holsters.
  10. consul
    a diplomat appointed to protect a government's interests
    "Victor!" she calls out, and then in a quieter voice she cues the men as if she does not want them to embarrass themselves by not knowing who this important personage is. "Victor Hubbard, consul at the Embajada Americana. Excuse me, señores."
  11. effusive
    uttered with unrestrained enthusiasm
    Effusively, Laura greets Carla and Sandi. "My darlings, my sweet Cuquitas, have you eaten?"
  12. apothecary
    a health professional trained in the art of preparing drugs
    Now everything she sees sharpens as if through the lens of loss—the orchids in their hanging straw baskets, the row of apothecary jars Carlos has found for her in old druggists' throughout the countryside, the rich light shafts swarming with a golden pollen.
  13. primogeniture
    right of inheritance belonging exclusively to the eldest son
    Primogeniture is also the clean slate of the oldest making the past out of nothing but faint whispers, presences, and tones.
  14. tenuous
    lacking substance or significance
    Those tenuous, tentative first life-impressions have scattered like reflections in a pond under the swirling hand of an older brother or sister saying, I remember the day you ate the rat poison, Carlos, or, I remember the day you fell down the stairs....
  15. eyelet
    small hole in cloth or leather for passage of a cord or hook
    It was plain pine, like Chucha wanted it, but inside, Mami had it lined in purple cushiony fabric, which was Chucha's favorite color, and bordered with white eyelet.
  16. talisman
    a trinket thought to be a magical protection against evil
    It was a statue carved out of wood like the kind I saw years later in the anthro textbooks I used to pore over, as if staring at those little talismanic wooden carvings would somehow be my madeleine, bringing back my past to me like they say tasting that cookie did for Proust.
  17. insolence
    the trait of being rude and impertinent
    I go in my own room, the one Doña Laura had special made for me so I could be with my santos at peace and not have to bear the insolence and annoyance of young girls with no faith in the spirits.
  18. dub
    provide (movies) with translated dialogue and narration
    The height of violence for us was on the weekly television Western imported from Hollywood and dubbed clumsily in Spanish.
  19. confer
    present
    When the U.N. post was first conferred on him, my grandfather balked: he wanted no part of the corrupt regime.
  20. constitution
    the way in which someone or something is composed
    But, my grandmother's tyrannical constitution brought its own kind of pressure to bear on him; as she grew older, she was always ill: aches, migraines, moodiness that only expensive specialists in the States would know how to cure.
  21. willful
    habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
    My grandfather, whom everyone called a saint, pampered her in everything and tolerated her willfulness...
  22. canonize
    treat as a sacred person
    Mamita, furious at hearing her husband canonized at her expense, took her revenge.
  23. gaudy
    tastelessly showy
    Instead of the usual oversized, cheap, gaudy, noise-making, spoiling-your-clothes, wasting-your-mind toys, that duffle bag was lined with school supplies and flashcards and workbooks and puzzle-size boxes whose covers announced: MASTERING ARABIC NUMERALS, THE WONDERS OF NATURE, A B C OF READING, MORE SOUNDS TO SAY.
  24. snub
    a refusal to recognize someone you know
    Since this part of our property adjoined the palacio of the dictator's daughter and son-in-law, my grandfather had been reluctant to erect a high wall lest it be considered a snub.
  25. intrusive
    tending to enter uninvited
    I steeled myself against his intrusive glances.
  26. epaulette
    an ornamental cloth pad worn on the shoulder
    My aunt stepped towards us; her broad shoulders gave her an official appearance, as if she were wearing epaulettes, and representing all our parents.
  27. innards
    the organs in a body, collectively
    The Human Body dropped from his hands, snapped open, and the innards scattered all over the dirt floor.
  28. unmitigated
    not diminished or moderated in intensity or severity
    I knew that in our family the least mention of the guardia got instant, unmitigated attention.
  29. besiege
    surround so as to force to give up
    Smiling feebly, Mundín stood silent just when I needed him to bring in the cavalry and rescue my besieged story.
  30. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    His mother knew him well and sensed we were up to no good, but the guardia on the property meant no diddling with minor infractions: it was everybody to their houses, bureau tops cleaned off, portable objects battened down.
Created on February 18, 2019 (updated February 20, 2019)

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