The Butterflies Courage (In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez)
In the historical fiction novel, In the Time of butterflies by Julia Alvarez writes about the Mirabal sisters who are important figures in the history of the Dominican Republic because of their fight against Trujillo’s oppressive regime. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear. The Brave may not live forever but the cautions do not live at all.” Each sister exhibited courage in some way because they spoke up against the government and performed illegal actions with the risks of being caught and killed. The four Mirabal sisters fear Trujillo and the future of the Dominicans government, but they were motivated and all had the courage to fight for their freedom. Each sister had courageous, fearful, and sacrificial moments, though some of them displayed one of them more than another. Courage, often hidden within a person, was brought out in all four girls.
Patria, the first of the Mirabal sisters shows her courage when she in her faith and even reliance on prayer in the worst of situations. At the beginning of the book she values religion a lot and wants to be a nun until she meets Pedrito, but she still is submerged into following her faith. Although as the revolution progress, and after the loss of her still born son she begins doubting her religious values. After constantly questioning Christianity she changes her faith to conform with her revolutionary impulses. She starts praying to El Jefe and starts doubting whether God or whether it is Trujillo who is behind all the corruption. Patria finally decides that her freedom is more important than her religion, but she continues to pray throughout the hard times. She opens her home and land to the resistance and allows them to store their guns and have meetings there. Devoted to her family, she pushes for the release of her son from prison and turns to God to make a promise to take her sons place. When faced with the decision to follow her religion strictly or to stand up for her freedom, Patria found the courage to break free from her previous restraints. She was not preoccupied with what had once binded her; she is able to follow her faith and continue to fight for what she believes in. Patria’s courage in the face of loss is bolstered by her religious faith, even in the moments when she thinks she’s losing her faith.
Dedé, the second of the Mirabal sisters, is the only surviving sister after the November 25 murders of her three sisters by Trujillo’s men. Out of the four sisters, Dede in particular struggles with her cowardice. She is afraid of losing her marriage and knows that it is a factor that prevents her from joining her sisters in their rebellious activities. Finally, “Dede could not run away. Courage! It was the first time she had used that word herself and understood exactly what it meant,” (Alvarez 198). At first, Dede wanted to just let go and give up on life, but then she notices how much her family needs her support. She realizes the fact that if she abandons her family, that they will get destroyed by the SIM. Dede is the last one to bear the family’s story, the only one left with a future. After listening to her dad say she will be the one to bury them all: ‘a chill goes through her, for she feels it in her bones, the future is now beginning. By the time it is over, it will be the past, and she doesn’t want to be the only one left to tell their story”(Alvarez 10). In a bit of foreshadowing, it shows that the shy sister must acquire the courage to become a part in her family’s story. Dede also shows courage after her sisters deaths through her dedication to answering questions about her sisters even though she is tired of being their representative in the world. She is also tired of being asked why she is the one who survived. But Dedé uses the museum and the memory of her sisters to pull her through when she finally leaves Jaimito. Later in her life she has breast cancer and survives her illness. Dedé may have felt that she was ruled by fear, but in taking the mantle of the remaining family’s survival and her own, she proves to be as courageous as the rest of the women in the family.
Minerva, the third of the Mirabal sisters, has always been politically active against the Trujillo regime. Minerva is willing to risk her life for freedom. She wants to be independent of the SIM’s control over societal life and she wants to have more choices than what Ojo de Agua has to offer. Minerva wants a democratic government that will respect individuals’ rights. She wants to be able to have a voice in the government. Minerva tells Trujillo, the dictator of the country, that she wants to go against the law and attend the university. She told the most powerful man she despises the fact that she strongly disagrees with one of his laws. She had the bravery to go toe-to-toe with Trujillo, was quite willing to break the law, and wanted nothing more than to get involved with and involve others in the revolution. Minerva Mirabal was certainly a brave and courageous individual and she made sure people knew it. Throughout the novel she had a number of encounters with Trujillo and she somehow came out on top. As stated by Minerva, ‘El Jefe takes my hand. ‘May I have the pleasure?”(Alvarez 65). Minerva meets the infamous Rafael Trujillo face to face and he asks her to dance with him. She didn’t try to escape but faced him head on is a testament to her character. ‘I can see my hand in a slow motion rise-a mind of its own-and come down on the astonished, made up face.’ Minerva said, (67). Here, we see Minerva has the audacity to slap Trujillo after he makes ‘vulgar thrusts.” Minerva fearless and outgoing exhibits courage of a different sort compared to her sisters, though she’s just as passionate and fearless. Minerva’s ideals and determination to stick with them give her sustenance as she heads into dangerous situations and secretly works against Trujilio.
María Teresa is the fourth and youngest Mirabal sister although she thinks of herself as a coward she build courage throughout her time in the resistance.She joins the resistance when she falls in love with Leandro, one of the dissidents working alongside her sister Minerva. María Teresa has finally found true love after struggling with false starts. Although she is committed to the revolution, she would not give Leandro up for it, because lasting love is more important to her than anything else and is worth the effort to save. María Teresa’s thought process is used to show how each character will have to struggle with the conflict between loving family and fear of violent retribution. Another symbol of her courgae was after she had been electrocuted by the torture device and is back in the room, naked, surrounded by guards. She is determined to dress and get out of the room on her own power. The scene also represents María Teresa’s anger, frustration, and despair that her torturers were able to use her to extract information, forcing her to assist in helping Trujillo’s cause. “Tears came to my eyes. Something big and powerful spread its wings inside me. Courage, I told myself. And this time, I felt it.’ (Alvarz 238) Maria Teresa was one of the sisters who did not believe herself to be courageousWhen she witnessed her sister’s courage in the face of adversity, however, she began to experience courage for herself. Maria Teresa was able to identify the feeling of courage, and became a stronger person because of it.
Throughout the novel, all four of the sisters viewed points at a different perspective and were able to discover the potential inside themselves. The book was about revolution, but the revolution itself changed the character of all of the sisters. Courage, often hidden within a person, was brought out in all four girls and displayed in varying amounts throughout the whole novel. In the end, many of these moments allowed the sisters to gain power to overcome obstacles. It takes guts to follow your heart, but when you do, you gain courage and strength to do so. The Mirabal sisters might have not been the cliché superheroes in a book, but they showed what true humans would and would not do, which makes them a whole lot more respectful.
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In the historical fiction novel, In the Time of butterflies by Julia Alvarez writes about the Mirabal sisters who are important figures in the history of the Dominican Republic because […]