Part 1

Four courageous sisters known as Las Mariposas, the Butterflies, risk everything to fight dictator Rafael Trujillo's oppressive regime in the Dominican Republic.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. posthumous
    occurring or coming into existence after a person's death
    Now after thirty-four years, the commemorations and interviews and presentations of posthumous honors have almost stopped, so that for months at a time Dede is able to take up her own life again.
  2. delegation
    a group of representatives
    Then, the big celebration over at the museum, the delegations from as far away as Peru and Paraguay, an ordeal really, making that many little party sandwiches and the nephews and nieces not always showing up in time to help.
  3. anonymity
    the state of being unknown
    Doesn’t she have seven more months of anonymity?
    In Greek, an means "without" and onoma means "name"' thus anonymous means "having no known name or identity or known source."
  4. impertinent
    improperly forward or bold
    Otherwise, they go on and on, asking the most impertinent questions.
  5. veritable
    not counterfeit or copied
    There is a veritable racket of gratitude on the other end, and Dede has to smile at some of the imported nonsense of this woman’s Spanish.
  6. laden
    filled with a great quantity
    On the back of an envelope left beside the museum phone, she has sketched an enormous tree, laden with flowers, the branches squirreling over the flap.
  7. inevitably
    in such a manner as could not be otherwise
    Why, they inevitably ask in one form or another, why are you the one who survived?
  8. emblazon
    decorate, adorn, or inscribe with a design
    There are the three pictures of the girls, old favorites that are now emblazoned on the posters every November, making these once intimate snapshots seem too famous to be the sisters she knew.
  9. tribute
    something given or done as an expression of esteem
    She still feels guilty about not continuing Mama’s tribute of a fresh blossom for the girls every day.
  10. distressing
    causing distress or worry or anxiety
    Over the woman’s shoulder, she sees she has left the door to her room ajar, her nightgown flung with distressing abandon on her bed.
  11. transcend
    be superior or better than some standard
    My niece Minou tells me I am doing some transcending meditation, something like that.
  12. clairvoyance
    apparent power to perceive things not present to the senses
    Especially—though he doesn’t say this—if she’s going to censor the clairvoyance of his several glasses of rum.
  13. pious
    having or showing or expressing reverence for a deity
    She stresses the verb confessing as if their father were actually being pious in looking ahead for his daughters.
  14. Immaculate Conception
    (Christianity) the Roman Catholic dogma that God preserved the Virgin Mary from any stain of original sin from the moment she was conceived
    It was as if I had just heard Jesus had slapped a baby or Our Blessed Mother had not conceived Him the immaculate conception way.
  15. exodus
    a journey by a group to escape from a hostile environment
    Sinita grabbed her towel and soap dish from her night table and joined the exodus.
  16. sanctity
    the quality of being holy
    A strange other-worldly light suffuses the house smelling of labor and sanctity.
  17. blithely
    in a joyous, carefree, or unconcerned manner
    We looked blithely at the road ahead, quadruplet angels.
  18. intently
    with strained or eager attention
    Ramfis looked intently at Sinita, who glared right back at him.
  19. Communion
    the act of participating in the celebration of the Eucharist
    I started noting the deadness in Padre Ignacio’s voice, the tedium between the gospel and communion, the dry papery feel of the host in my mouth.
    The Eucharist is a Christian ceremony in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed to remember the Last Supper and Christ's death.
  20. catechism
    an elementary book summarizing the principles of a religion
    All I can think of is the picture in our Catechism of a valentine with measles.
  21. venial
    warranting only temporal punishment
    I told her that if I was going to commit a Mortal sin, as lying to a religious can’t be Venial, the least Minerva could do was tell me what I was risking my immortal soul for.
  22. diligent
    characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks
    I resolve to be diligent with my tasks and not fall asleep when I say my prayers.
  23. inaugurate
    open ceremoniously or dedicate formally
    This time I’m inaugurating my patent leather shoes and a baby blue poplin dress with a little jacket to match.
  24. pilgrimage
    a journey to a sacred place
    She is not coming back until after the Virgencita’s feast day on the 21st as her whole family is making the pilgrimage to Higuey.
  25. console
    give moral or emotional strength to
    Pedrito just cracks his knuckles and consoles her by saying that they can have another one real soon.
  26. mortification
    act of denying lusts of the flesh, especially by bodily pain
    The nuns closed themselves up in their convent for their yearly mortifications in honor of the crucifixion of their bridegroom and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  27. tarry
    leave slowly and hesitantly
    Sor Asuncion said, as if she had asked a question and I was tarrying in my answer.
  28. dispensation
    an exemption from some rule or obligation
    Papa had said we must wait until I was seventeen, but he consented to giving me those three days of dispensation.
  29. desolation
    sadness resulting from being forsaken or abandoned
    Snug in my heart, fondling my pearl, I had ignored their cries of desolation.
  30. limbo
    in Catholicism, the place of unbaptized but innocent souls
    The poor innocent would be stuck in limbo all eternity!
  31. commemorative
    intended to honor the memory of someone or something
    We joked about all the commemorative marches and boring speeches we had been spared by leaving this particular weekend.
  32. reminisce
    recall the past
    We sang, told stories, reminisced about this or that.
  33. intervene
    get involved, so as to alter or hinder an action
    Mama intervened before those two could get into one of their fights.
  34. estranged
    caused to be unloved
    I felt a tremor of excitement, as if I were about to meet an estranged friend with whom I longed to be reconciled.
  35. forsake
    leave someone who needs or counts on you; leave in the lurch
    She would not tell me, but when I guessed, “Another woman?” she sighed, and then said, “Ay, Virgencita, why have you forsaken me?”
    The question echoes a line from the Bible when Jesus was on the cross and cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Created on November 26, 2013 (updated August 30, 2018)

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