How Does Patria Show Courage in the Time of the Butterflies

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Courage is one’s determination to face their fears and stay strong despite any obstacles standing in their way. In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, is about the Mirabal sisters’ fight for a free country against Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in the 1950’s. The Mirabal sisters’ courage is highlighted as Minerva faces the dictator and his regime, Patria is inspired to protect her family, and Dede faces her husband.

Minerva, who is viewed as the most courageous of the sisters, acted against anything she took as unjust or unfair no matter the consequences. Minerva was invited to the Discovery Day Dance, one of Trujillo’s parties, at which he asked her to dance. When he began to act inappropriately, Minerva could see her “hand in an endless slow motion rise- a mind all its own- and come down on the astonished, made-up face” (Alvarez 100). Minerva wasn’t afraid to slap Trujillo in the face, as she lived for the revolution and stopping his dictatorship. She valued fairness and justice, and didn’t believe that he followed either of those. She didn’t care that he was known to kill families who acted out against him or the fact that he held a lot of power. Later on, Minerva was put in jail for being part of the revolution, and during her time there, planned for everyone to wear a crucifix. She had her sister Patria send her the necklaces for this silent act of solidarity, and the prisoners wore them and sang hymns, until Trujillo decided that the priests were plotting against him. The prison guards collected the crucifixes from the prisoners, “but when they grabbed Minerva, she started kicking and swinging her arms. Santiclo’s cap flew across the room and Tiny was smacked in the face.” (238). Minerva did not care what the consequences of her actions were or what could happen to her because of this. She ended up in solitary for three weeks for not giving up her crucifix necklace and “kicking and swinging” at the guards. The idea of doing what she could do was more important than not doing anything at all, and the crucifixes were important to her because they were a silent movement from prison. The crucifix symbolizes her solidarity to the revolution which was so important to her. Minerva’s courage was not foolish, as she always wanted to do what was right and fair for everyone, and not just for herself. She did this to make a statement about how unfair it was for the people who were a part of the revolution to be imprisoned. Minerva was not scared of taking a risk in exchange for making a difference and this is evident throughout the novel and the story of her life.

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Dede realized her own worth and how controlling her husband was, which takes a lot of bravery. Dede wanted to join her sisters in the revolution, however she knew her husband, Jaimito, wouldn’t allow it. She finally accepted the fact that her husband was the reason preventing her from taking many opportunities in her life. As she was still excited about the thought of the revolution, Dede would sneak out every night and listen to the revolutionaries speak on the radio, even though she knew her husband disapproved, “her excursions were what mattered now. They were her secret rebellion, her heart hungering, her little underground of one” (181). Dede informed herself on what was going on instead of staying clueless of what was happening in her country and what her sisters taking part in. She was subject to her husband’s rules, but still took time for herself to keep up and feel like she was doing something for herself, going on a “secret rebellion”, even if it didn’t mean putting herself in direct danger like her sisters were. Dede did not join the revolution herself, however, she chose to take care of her children instead of leaving them behind. Dede’s courage is apparent as she recognized how she was being oppressed by her husband, made decisions for herself, and thought about what she could do for others.

Patria gains courage throughout the novel and is determined to fight for her family and help free her country. After witnessing an invasion and the death of an innocent boy the same age as her daughter at a retreat with her church, Patria joined the Accion Clero-Cultural group with other church-goers. Their goal was to create an underground movement in which they would “spread the word of god” (164). Patria had almost become a nun earlier in her life and was a very religious and giving person, “But then again, here in that little room was the same Patria Mercedes, who wouldn’t have hurt a butterfly, shouting, ‘Amen to the revolution’” (163). The 14th of June prompted Patria to join the revolution after seeing firsthand what was really happening in her country. Seeing a young boy get killed made her worry about the safety of her own children and realize what could happen to them. She wasn’t scared to take action if it meant she could protect her children, Nelson and Noris, and the rest of her family. She wasn’t a violent person, as she would not have harmed “a butterfly”, and planned on spreading her faith and values in hopes of turning things around for the better. Patria’s encounter with violence in her home country motivated her to pursue the revolution and take risks for her family.

The Mirabal sisters were all examples of courageous women who fought for what they believed in. Each sister was brave in their own way and took their own risks for themselves, their families, and their home country. The courage that these four sisters had is what has made them such a memorable part of this time and a part of the revolution. Courage is about taking risks for not only yourself but also for others, an act of selflessness and bravery for the greater good.

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How Does Patria Show Courage in the Time of the Butterflies. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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