"The Red Umbrella," Vocabulary from Part 4

"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. medley
    a musical composition consisting of a series of songs
    It was a medley of yellow and green flowers on the walls, with mustard-colored appliances.
    Here, the word is used figuratively. The author is equating the flowers to music.
  2. contort
    twist and press out of shape
    “Be-e-each,” I said, contorting my mouth into the same huge smile she had.
  3. liberty
    personal freedom from servitude or confinement or oppression
    "You’ll both be given responsibilities around the house, but we’ll also give you certain liberties."
  4. coax
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    She walked over to Frankie and placed her hand on his back to coax him out of my room.
  5. declaration
    a statement that is emphatic and explicit
    This, for Frankie, was a declaration of war, and he grabbed his own handful of mud to throw at me.
  6. mercilessly
    without pity
    For the next couple of minutes, Frankie and I attacked each other mercilessly.
  7. savage
    a cruel or vicious person
    "She’s going to think we’re savages,” I whispered.
  8. trance
    a state resembling deep sleep
    In a dreamlike trance, I pulled the gray wool sweater over my head.
  9. thrust
    place or put with great energy
    She waved me over and thrust the receiver into my open hand.
  10. quiver
    a shaky motion
    I could hear the quiver in Mama’s own voice.
  11. whimper
    a complaint uttered in a plaintive whining way
    Frankie opened his mouth to say something, but only a whimper escaped from his lips.
  12. eliminate
    end, take out, or do away with
    Castro was, in one way or another, eliminating those who did not agree with him.
  13. sinister
    wicked, evil, or dishonorable
    Now I could only hope that my parents would not be eliminated in a more sinister way.
  14. parish
    a local church community
    After Mass, there was always coffee and doughnuts in the parish hall.
  15. chide
    censure severely or angrily
    "Don’t say that, Frankie,” I chided.
  16. plead
    appeal or request earnestly
    I pleaded with my eyes for Mrs. Baxter to get off the phone.
  17. dreariness
    extreme dullness; lacking spirit or interest
    I gave her a halfhearted smile, but I just couldn’t shake my dreariness.
  18. checkered
    patterned with alternating squares of color
    I’d flipped the ends and chosen a wide orange headband that matched the checkered dress Mrs. Baxter had fixed for me.
  19. beeline
    the most direct route
    The bus driver closed the door, and Frankie made a beeline for the back, where a boy his age was tossing a baseball.
  20. swarm
    move in large numbers
    As the crowd swarmed past me, I stopped to take in my surroundings.
  21. expansive
    able or tending to extend in one or more directions
    At the end of the corridor was an expansive stairway that led to the second floor.
  22. strut
    walk with a lofty proud gait
    Mrs. Brolin patted my shoulder and strutted back to her desk.
  23. transition
    a change from one place or state or subject to another
    I just know that starting high school can be a difficult transition for any young girl.
  24. comeback
    a quick reply to a question or remark
    I wanted to have a smart comeback, but by the time I thought of something in English, most conversations had usually moved on.
  25. insecurity
    the anxiety experienced when feeling vulnerable
    All my insecurities felt exposed.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.