"The Red Umbrella," Vocabulary from Part 1

"The Red Umbrella" by Christina Diaz Gonzalez takes place a few years after the Communist revolution in Cuba. A fourteen year-old girl, whose parents fear for her life, is sent alone to make a new life for herself in America. Her journey and her growth are at the center of this novel.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. flustered
    thrown into a state of agitated confusion
    The poor woman would probably be so flustered that she’d pass out.
  2. caravan
    a procession traveling together in single file
    A caravan of large camouflaged trucks and jeeps came into view.
  3. fatigues
    military uniform worn by personnel when doing menial labor
    I half hid behind a coconut palm and watched as truck after truck, filled with men wearing fatigues, roared past me.
  4. oblivious
    lacking conscious awareness of
    My parents were sitting at the kitchen table huddled around a radio, oblivious to the fact that the sun had set and that most of the house was now dark and full of shadows.
  5. promptly
    at once (usually modifies an undesirable occurrence)
    The voice of someone giving a speech was promptly silenced.
  6. strain
    exert much effort or energy
    I strained to hear what they were saying.
  7. devour
    eat greedily
    I grabbed my pink robe and headed downstairs before Frankie could devour everything Mama had made.
  8. monotone
    sounded or spoken in a tone unvarying in pitch
    I took the same nasal, monotone voice of my revolution-loving social-studies teacher.
  9. corruption
    use of a position of trust for dishonest gain
    He has replaced corruption with a new system of government that has brought much happiness to all the Cuban people.
  10. intoxicating
    extremely exciting
    Despite what I’d seen and how nervous the soldiers made me feel, there was an intoxicating kind of energy that filled the air, cloaking everything.
  11. revolutionary
    a radical supporter of political or social change
    We don’t have any anti- revolutionaries in Puerto Mijares.
    The prefix "anti" makes this the opposite meaning. In this specific case, it means against the revolutionary movement. Castro's regime used it for anyone opposed to communism.
  12. irrational
    not consistent with or using reason
    I didn’t want to admit that I was being held hostage by my irrational mother.
    The adjective "irrational" emphasizes that "hostage" is being used figuratively here, since the mother is not really holding her daughter prisoner in order to negotiate with someone else. Although this domestic situation is an exaggeration, it gives a hint to the political atmosphere of Cuba.
  13. traitor
    someone who betrays his country by committing treason
    I’d heard stories on TV of traitors being executed, but those people were trying to harm us.
  14. vanity
    low table with a mirror where one sits while dressing
    She reached over and put the silver-handled brush back on my vanity.
  15. chaperone
    accompany as a supervisor of young people
    "In a few months, you’ll have your quinceanera and a year after that I’ll be chaperoning you on dates.”
  16. gesture
    show, express, or direct through movement
    Papa gestured toward us.
  17. custody
    holding by the police
    It came from Havana; they’ve taken Betafil into custody.
  18. consolation
    the comfort you feel when soothed in times of disappointment
    My only consolation was knowing that someday I’d be free of all their stupid rules and worries.
  19. nationalization
    changing something from private to state control
    Maybe I could use the fact that Cuba’s labor union was supporting the nationalization of all the private schools to convince Papa that going to the meetings was okay.
  20. starch
    commercial preparation used to stiffen fabrics in laundering
    Mama took out a starched linen tablecloth and snapped it open over the kitchen table.
  21. silhouette
    an outline of a solid object as cast by its shadow
    As I stood by the large picture window in the front of the house, I caught a glimpse of Papa's silhouette.
  22. judgmental
    depending on assessing a person or situation or event
    I couldn’t believe how judgmental Papa was being.
  23. rhetoric
    high-flown style; excessive use of verbal ornamentation
    "Everyone is in love with all the fancy rhetoric.”
  24. classify
    assign to a category or kind
    "That it would be a shame if, because of a silly misunderstanding, I were classified as an anti-revolutionary and sent to prison like Betafil.”
  25. ethics
    motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
    A year ago, he was nothing more than a lazy salesman in a shoe store, and today he wants to dictate my code of ethics.

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