"The Milagro Beanfield War," Vocabulary from Part 5-Epilogue

Featuring a battle for farmer's rights with a very unlikely hero on the front lines, John Nichols's "The Milagro Beanfield War" is a comic look at what happens when people stand up for themselves when the odds are stacked against them.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Prologue-Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3-4, Part 5-Epilogue

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. diaphanous
    so thin as to transmit light
    Laughing out loud, he fumbled around for a moment gathering in the picnic goodies; then they were off, jolting through town and up past the Dancing Trout, singing together now, Beatles songs and Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and even Chuck Berry; and the air, evening-cooled and foamy from their own dust, washed over them like fluffy, diaphanous whipped cream.
  2. plethora
    extreme excess
    A mile below town he stopped at a one-car block manned by the two Chamisaville state personnel, Loren McKay and Buddy Namath, who added nothing to the plethora of non-information he already had.
  3. ambiguous
    having more than one possible meaning
    “I just don’t know how to handle it. I feel so ambiguous. What kind of wishy-washy person am I anyway?”
  4. temperament
    your usual mood
    Maybe I shouldn’t have been a lawyer. I don’t have the temperament to be a lawyer. I’m not tough enough. I don’t have the kind of compassion it would take to be good. I don’t know what I have the temperament to be, you want to know the truth.
  5. eradicate
    destroy completely, as if down to the roots
    A hundred times he had confronted black widows, and—BLAM!—always, unthinkingly, he had smashed them with his hand the way most men and women in Milagro eradicated the pests.
  6. banality
    a trite or obvious remark
    All the questions and games concerning souls, mortality, life and death, religion, great art, and banality are brought into play here.
  7. translucent
    allowing light to pass through diffusely
    Then, as the wide sky became translucently pink and azure with the moon still shining brightly from the center of it, he drove down the hill to Bud Gleason’s house.
  8. opulent
    rich and superior in quality
    He heard the chopper coming up from the south, and within a few minutes Mel Willard had set the small bubble copter down in the alfalfa field directly behind Bud Gleason’s opulent adobe home.
  9. scavenge
    collect discarded or refused material
    Esquipula Gurule, his wife, Fructosa, and their children, Emma Jean, Filiberto, and Bobby, all carrying burlap feeding sacks, jumped from the truck and fanned out across the immediate area scavenging for aluminum beer cans.
  10. contortion
    a tortuous and twisted shape or position
    Snuffy went through a few complicated contortions to regain his feet, wavered unsteadily for a moment, then wove back into the store to sign up for another six-pack of tallboys, some Slim Jim sausages, and a package of roasted pinon nuts.
  11. remorse
    a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
    Years ago he had been a mountain boy like most other kids from Milagro, passing time up there with sheep and goats, spending summers in a tent looking after cattle or taking care of his uncle’s scare gun, lying under the stars with the gun booming and the animals making their comfortable and stupid summer noises—All at once Snuffy experienced almost crippling waves of sadness and remorse.
  12. sojourn
    a temporary stay
    After a peaceful sojourn Snuffy stood up and advanced farther, working his way slowly westward until eventually he arrived at the gorge rim.
  13. speculate
    believe, especially on uncertain or tentative grounds
    Rather, the agent speculated that his man had probably stayed around the lower, heavily wooded canyons where his truck had been found last night and where you’d practically have to trip over him to find him.
  14. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    Most men, including (and maybe especially) policemen, were erratic, sometimes good at what they did, often bad, always unpredictable.
  15. boisterous
    full of rough and exuberant animal spirits
    Although occasionally aware of, and slightly disturbed by, the action around him, the boisterous excitement and stupid techniques (or lack of techniques) of inexperienced men on a hunt, the agent was for the most part tuned in to only his own well-trained and modulated senses.
  16. aplomb
    great coolness and composure under strain
    When Bernabe Montoya’s doleful voice crackled over the walkie-talkie, the agent replied succinctly, thoroughly, and then absorbed the information, or rather, lack of information, from the sheriff with equal automatic aplomb.
  17. inept
    generally incompetent and ineffectual
    It was insane, pathetic, almost criminal for a man pushing forty to feel so inept, so ashamed of his body, his heart, his work ethics, his Tinkertoy soul.
  18. abdicate
    give up, such as power, as of monarchs and emperors
    He wanted to lie down in this redolent field, curl up in the green womb in the dazzling aura of these mountains, growing warm and drowsy under the sun, abdicating all responsibilities—and sleep.
  19. begrudge
    be envious of or feel annoyance toward
    Shorty could mend anything, lay pipes, design houses, make adobes, read and write, talk crops and politics, and he’d parlayed his talents, some people felt, into a big piece of the Devine empire, but they didn’t begrudge him what he had gotten, because he’d fought like a son of a bitch to get there
  20. tenacious
    stubbornly unyielding
    It was no picnic for a derelict that old to wrestle with the wheel, guiding the heavy machine, but the angels were on his side, saluting him, no doubt, with heavenly laughter as they gave strength to his feeble hands and as they gave the joyful determination of all legendary heroes from John Henry through Emiliano Zapata to his tenacious heart.
  21. anathema
    a detested person
    To most Milagro citizens prairie dogs were anathema to life, and they shot, killed, poisoned, drowned, bludgeoned, hexed, cursed, and, in general, vilified the pesky tunnel burrowers in about every way possible, because those varmints would ruin a field before you could say “Filiberto Mascarenas!”
  22. surmise
    infer from incomplete evidence
    Once he paused for almost a minute at what appeared to be thin wisps of smoke rising from a recent campfire near the fifth lake’s shore—but he surmised, after lengthy inspection, that it was some curious configuration of mist rising, perhaps from a warm spring in the muddy ground.
  23. embellish
    add details to
    For there was nobody in town, men and women alike, who did not spend some time on that porch during any given day, knocking off a soda and a peanut butter Nab or some pinon nuts or Slim Jims while the news got passed around and fondled affectionately, embellished when necessary, exaggerated where possible, and twisted if the occasion called for twisting.
  24. irrefutable
    impossible to deny or disprove
    As he was going over the terrain, planning exactly how to run it, memorizing the rocks and rotting logs that could trip him up, his mind abruptly veered away into the absolute and irrefutable realization that he had been caught in a trap.
  25. consummate
    having or revealing supreme mastery or skill
    Those men meant to kill him, and if he didn’t soon hit on something they would rub him out with consummate ease.
  26. pell-mell
    in a wild or reckless manner
    And with that he turned around and plunged deeper into the trees, grabbing trunks to swing around and down, skidding in thick meshes of slick, rotting leaves, barreling clumsily through brushy tangles, staggering pell-mell down through the forest and the canyons toward his car four miles below.
  27. sashay
    walk with a lofty proud gait, often to impress others
    Everybody except Joe and Nancy tilted forward, and, in one manner or another, plunged, sashayed, tiptoed, or soft-shoe-shuffled into the Frontier Bar.
  28. integrity
    moral soundness
    In fact, he sometimes envied his neighbors whatever it was some of them still possessed—call it cultural integrity—that he had mostly turned his back on by accepting the sheriff's job.
  29. unfathomable
    impossible to come to understand
    If he had seen a way, or if he had believed a little more in his genre’s ability to overcome their own confusion and internal disorders, he would have turned in his star tomorrow, grabbed a shovel, put on his irrigation boots, forsaken the security of his salary, and dived like a hungry muskrat into the heart of his own background in hopes of creating a better compromise for the unfathomable future.
  30. euphoria
    a feeling of great elation
    And then she wondered if everyone had signed her petition only in a moment of euphoria.
  31. tenure
    the term during which some position is held
    The governor had already been forced to alert the National Guard once during his tenure in office, to deal with barrio disturbances in the capital.
  32. effectuate
    bring about or cause to happen
    You developed this project to where it is today because of certain arrangements that myself and my colleagues in state government were able to effectuate on your behalf.
  33. excruciating
    extremely painful
    And he would stare at them, his head bowed under the weight of an excruciating hangover, and say, “What do you fellows think we ought to do?”
  34. insensate
    devoid of feeling and consciousness and animation
    At last, late late that night, or rather early in the morning, Onofre Martinez passed out over his piano; Joe Mondragon slumped insensate beside Herbie Goldfarb’s guitar; and Marvin LaBlue lost consciousness with two wrenches lying across his chest and a greasy smile on his hillbilly face.
  35. pacifist
    someone opposed to violence as a means of settling disputes
    A few minutes later the bear crossed through Herbie Goldfarb’s yard, but this time the high-minded pacifist, conscientious objector, and VISTA volunteer manque didn’t notice because he was too busy dreaming about how to guillotine, garrote, gag, strangle, electrocute, bludgeon, and in general crucify Joe Mondragon for punching him in the mouth.

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