In the Time of the Butterflies

Saint Cecilia and Minerva from In the Time of the Butterflies

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

To get the title as being a martyr you would have had to voluntarily be put to death because you were strongly fighting for what you believed in and people in high power who are not all for what you are doing putting you through complete torture. When you die for what you believed in you are not seen as a weak person who just gave up, you would be forever known as a strong individual or group of people who were not afraid to put up a fight. Here are a few females who were martyred because of their beliefs. Saint Felicitas was martyred along with her seven sons and the sick thing was is that they had her watch her sons being murdered. Blandina was tortured to death she was holding on for so long that the perpetrators became very tired and they took her out to an amphitheater and days later she was killed by throwing her in front of a wild steer. Catherine of Alexandria converted hundreds of people to Christians and she was supposed to die by the breaking of the wheel but when she touched it, it had fallen into pieces and they had decided to behead her instead. The one martyr that we are going to talk about is Saint Cecilia.

Saint Cecilia was born into a very wealthy family and was a Christian at birth. When she was a young child, she vowed her virginity to God. Being a Christian, everyone knows that it’s a sin to have sex before marriage. Back in the day, there were arranged marriages and young people were getting married to people that they don’t even love. Saint Cecilia had to marry saint Valerian even though she didn’t want to. Because of this, she told him that an angel of God appeared and wanted her to remain a virgin. Her husband wanted to see this angel, but he became a pagan and was going to have to get baptized in order to see the angel. She also managed to convert his brother, she spent a lot of converting other people as well and this is what got her killed. Both her husband and her brother in law was martyred before she was. Cecilia was one of the most famous roman martyrs. Cecilia was brought in for a trial and then was sentenced to her death. It took days for her to die and it has been said that because she converted so many people, they were showing up to take care of her as she was dying. They tormented her for days with fire and smoke in a bathhouse but because she was still alive, they then decided to try and behead her, she was then stuck on the neck with a sword three times and she was still alive after that and just basically bled to death. She was buried in the catacomb of St. Callistus, near Rome. She became the patron saint of musicians and music.

In the Time of the Butterflies book, Minerva was not born into a wealthy family like Cecilia was. She was the “ringleader” in her family, and they looked to her for direction. She wanted to go into law ever since she was little so then she could one day have a voice for her country. She went to law school and graduated from there, but Trujillo denied her license. She married a man named Manolo and together they started the militant resistance movement. She had two kids Minou and Manolito. Minerva and her sisters were killed because they did not like the cruel and unusual government of the one and only Trujillo. Trujillo caught the tree sisters very off guard when they were coming back from visiting their husbands. They were beaten, clubbed, and strangled to death. Minerva became a martyr because Trujillo forced Minerva to keep quiet about all the terrible things he was doing, but because of the hardworking and strong woman that she is, she did not agree with how he was conducting the country. Minerva was not going to keep quiet about what he was doing even if it would cost her, her life.

Minerva and Saint Cecilia had some similarities but also some differences. Minerva wanted freedom for not only herself but for others.

Reference

  • Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2019.
  • Cecilia: Saints Resource (no date) Cecilia | Saints Resource. Available at: http://saintsresource.com/cecilia (Accessed: October 24, 2019).
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The Butterflies Courage (In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez)

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

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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Theme Of Justice And The Idea Of Trials in Three Different Novels

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Throughout the three books, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, and The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the authors use the theme of justice and the idea of trials to express how powerful people always triumph and can manipulate the public to their will. The unfair prosecution of Tom Robinson, the imprisonment of the Mirabal sisters, and the the trial of Charles Darnay all show unfair treatment of innocent people due to the uneven distribution of power weighted towards the powerful and the corrupt.

Tom Robinson is falsely accused for raping Mayella Ewell because he is black, which makes him a prime suspect and shows how biased the community of Mayham is. Although Atticus completely commits himself to this case by trying to save Tom Robinson, he fails and Tom Robinson is found to be guilty, although this is clearly not the case. In trials, the jury and the judge ultimately make a verdict, which means they hold all legal power. Clearly, Maycomb is a white-superior town; the black people have no voice and are looked down upon by most. By no coincidence, the jury of Maycomb is made up of all white men. Although Atticus’s evidence is far superior to that of Bob Ewell’s tenuous explanation, the case goes in favor of Mayella only due to racial prejudice. In the beginning of the novel, Atticus is a very respected man, he has many talents and is both humble and smart. However, after becoming Tom Robinson’s lawyer, he becomes the new talk of the town, but only in a bad sense. People begin to doubt Atticus and soon he isn’t trusted or even listened to. Everyone believes Atticus is making a poor decision by supporting Tom Robinson just because he is a black man. This racial segregation shows that the white people of Mayham are able to bend the idea of justice in their favor because they are the majority of the town. Being the majority, they are able to impose what they want without anyone standing up against them. For example, when Atticus goes to protect Tom Robinson by sitting in front of the jail, and the group of white men come to the jail to attempt to lynch Tom Robinson, they don’t want any business with Atticus. Instead, they are specifically targeting Tom Robinson, although Atticus supports Tom Robinson. This shows how the white people’s idea of justice always matches up with what they want, showing that whatever they decide to do is always justified, even if it is putting an innocent man into jail such as Tom Robinson. This shows how Harper Lee uses racial discrimination along with the idea of justice to show how the majority (or in this case the superior community) will always dominate over the others and will always assume that their idea of justice is right.

When the Mirabal sisters are finally captured and put into jail by Trujillo, this represents Trujillo’s inexorable power in his totalitarian state. Because Trujillo is a dictator, there is no one else who can stand up to him. He holds all power, therefore putting him above the law; he can do anything within his power, which is everything. Therefore, when the Mirabal sisters (all except for Dede) are captured, he puts them in jail without even a trial. Not only the sisters, but many innocent people are being put into prison by Trujillo without reason. This shows that there is no form of justice whatsoever under Trujillo. Instead of justice, there is Trujillo’s reign of terror. In this novel, Alvarez never directly writes or includes a trial scene. The author does this in order to give the impression that the trial almost never even existed. This shows how the convicted have no real voice in the trials or any rights at all. Because the convicted have no say in the trials, it is clear what the outcome of every trial will be. Thus, there is no true value to having a trial which is why Alvarez decided not to include any trial scenes in the book. After all, Trujillo is a dictator, making every decision of his legitimate because he negates the law. Therefore, Alvarez uses the idea of justice to show that Trujillo traffics all power in his state.

When Charles Darnay finally arrives in France with his imagine of glory, he is soon taken away and captured due to being an emigrant, showing that the revolutionaries have become empowered. Being an emigrant has never been a crime, until the power shift in France comes along. Although the king and queen technically still hold legal power in France, it is clear that the revolutionaries have seized all true power. The revolutionaries have started holding their own trials and creating their own laws. Therefore, these make-shift trials the revolutionaries are holding are sure to be unfair and heavily biased, showing that the French revolutionaries have the leisure to do whatever they think is just. Surely, Darnay would have stayed in prison without the help of Dr. Manette. The first time Darnay is captured, Manette hears about this and decides to help out. Fortunately, as a former prisoner of the Bastille, Dr. Manette is easily able to convince the revolutionaries to release Darnay. This shows that Dr. Manette has a reputation and power within the people. Dickens uses trials and justice as devices to show how the power shifts from the government to the people in France. Also, Dickens makes it clear that certain individuals, such as Madame DeFarge and Dr. Manette, can manipulate people to their cause by using their idea of justice. For example, Madame DeFarge is all about revenge, she uses this to empower (almost brainwash) the people to fight for the revolution. Although Madame DeFarge does not hold much legal power, she is popular with the revolutionaries and she uses this in order to continually gain more power. This shows how certain individuals can manipulate the public to their motives. Dickens also uses the idea of justice and trials to show how the revolutionaries are gradually seizing power from the government.

The idea of justice and law are used in these novels to show imbalances in power, both in the government as well as within the people. Trials and justice are supposed to punish those who are guilty while saving the innocent. However, it is quite ironic how in all three cases, the innocent are accused, which further shows how the power of law is being misused. The condemnation of Tom Robinson, the Mirabal Sisters, and Charles Darnay all show how the most powerful people can manipulate the minds of others to do what they please without any restraint.

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Use Of Weather in In The Time of The Butterflies Novel

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

The setting of a story plays a vital role in developing and advancing the story, its theme and its characters. Weather and geography, for example, are two vital aspects of the setting of In The Time of the Butterflies, a historical novel by Julia Alvarez. The use of weather, whether rainy or sunny, has been used throughout the novel in order to establish an atmosphere for the story’s tone, as had the geography in developing the characters, their conflicts and the advancement of the plot.

One instance of the use of weather to create an atmosphere to suit the story’s tone occurred on October 12th, the day of the Discovery Day Dance in El Jefe’s mansion (Alvarez 93), in which a rainy storm notably arrives, disrupting El Jefe’s party and his dance with Minerva. After an uneasy night dancing with El Jefe, Minerva retains yet hides his hatred of him from her time spent with Sinita as she nostalgically recalls the same “feeling [of] stagefright of five years back” (98). Trying to take advantage of the night, Minerva pleads for his permission to attend law school in order to become a lawyer, but after one sexual advance too many on El Jefe’s part, she slaps her hand “down on the astonished, made-up face” (100). The uncertainty of the night, as well as her sudden criminal offense, is reflected by the sudden rain that “comes down hard,” causing “squeals of surprise” (100). The rain helps add to the “mysterious” and “miserable” tones of the scene (Foster 71), as Minerva fears that she may be arrested for her sudden actions, but to her surprise, El Jefe opted to not arrest her, bringing about a glance of the “rainbow” that accompanies the rain (74). However, after leaving the party, Minerva realizes she left behind her purse and the traitor Lio’s letters inside at the party, thereby evoking feelings of fear, stress and uncertainty, as if El Jefe found these letters, she and her family may be accused of being traitors. These emotions are accompanied by the “rainy spell,” in which “the rain comes down all morning” on this “dreary day” (Alvarez 102).

Another instance of rain establishing a feeling of suspense and fear occurs when Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva travel to Monte Cristi in order to meet with their husbands, accompanied by Rufino and a soldier they met on the road. When approaching Monte Cristi, a storm overcomes the mountainside road. An ominous tone is established as Minerva notes the “steep drop just inches from the slippery road, […] the dangerous possibilities, the fumes from the bad muffler [and] the bumpiness of the road” (284), all of which only gets worse when the storm approaches, making “the inside of the Jeep [grow] dark and stuffy” (285). The rain is “isolating” as a weather condition (Foster 71), as Minerva notes that, because of the downpour of the heavy rain, she “could barely hear Patria or Mate talking, much less Rufino and the young soldier up front” (Alvarez 286). The uncertainty and suspense of the dark and stormy night further develops when Manolo warns Minerva to avoid returning home during the storm and to instead wait overnight (294), but despite his warning and feeling “a little uneasy” (296), Minerva and the rest of the group opts to travel that night, only to be confronted by their own murderers.

The geography of the Dominican Republic is necessary for the events of this novel to occur as well as to establish the circumstances for the characters to become the Butterflies. The government of this country is run by General Trujillo, the self-appointed president who runs the country like a dictator, having everybody who opposes him or dissents him killed or jailed (Alvarez 19), with even an accidental typo in a newspaper leading to months imprisoned. His likeness becomes an omnipresent presence in the culture, as each household has a “required portrait of El Jefe” (202). People are pressured into fear either directly by the SIM or through spies who take away people’s privacy, even from the comfort of one’s home. A growing resentment from the people of this culture leads to the development of the rebellion group, with each of the Mirabel sister having their own impetus, whether denial to practice law or a devastating explosion during a church retreat, thereby igniting a revolution to overthrow Trujillo’s regime. The people of this culture and geography can no longer tolerate Trujillo and the SIM, allowing for the revolution and the politicals involved to ignite and soon lead into the end of Trujillo’s dictatorship and for true democracy to take over in this country.

Rain means more than just rain, and geography defines more than just where a story takes place, as demonstrated by Julia Alvarez’s historical novel, In The Time of the Butterflies. Without applying these techniques to her story, the Mirabal sisters would not have been able to tell their emotional anecdotes with as much meaning and power as they did. By creating an emotional atmosphere and suspense through the weather and delivering the feelings and grievances of the people through the geography, Alvarez has successfully allowed for the reader to live through the story of the Mirabal sisters as they challenged Trujillo’s regime.

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Faith and Heroism: Sisters Mirabal Characters in In the Time of Butterflies

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

The novel In the The Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, consists of a frame narrative told by the only Mirabal sister to survive the reign of Trujillo, Dede Mirabal. This story takes place in the Dominican Republic all the way back in 1938, leading up to the “present” time in 1994. At this time in the Dominican Republic, the country is being ruled by a man named Trujillo, and he is making their homeland an unsafe and horrible place. As young girls, the Mirabal sisters do not find Trujillo as any threat to them. They hear stories that he has many girlfriends and that Trujillo has people killed for him, but the ends did not seem to meet until after they grow up, get married, and have children. Patria Mirabal tries to put the rule of Trujillo deep in the back of her mind, but soon finds that as a child of God she should fight for what she believes in and put an end to the long list of sins Trujillo has committed. Patria uses her faith as a weapon to stay strong during the reign of Trujillo because she feels she has to fight for her son, husband, sisters, children, and the people of the Dominican Republic.

Patria has an unbreakable bond with God because she trusts His plans for her life even though she has suffered through many tragedies. Patria grows into a young woman and marries a man named Pedrito. She gets pregnant and as her due date arrives, a dead child arrives as well. At a time like this, Patria could lose her faith in God due to this miscarriage, but she does not. She tells her mother, “It is the Lord’s will” (53). Later on in Patria’s life at the age of twenty- four, she quotes God and says, “Build your house on a rock, do my will. And though the rain fall and the floods come and the winds blow, the good wife’s house will stand” (148).She then says, “I had built my house on solid rock, all right” (148). Here it seems Patria is content with what God blesses her with, but the true test to see if she if she has faith in Him is when she goes on a church retreat and comes out alive after a bombing by Trujillo near her retreat house. The bombs explode and Patria thinks, “…His Kingdom was coming down upon the very roof of that retreat house” (161). This shows the true way Patria feels at the time, an image of her Lord’s Kingdom falling down on her “crushing” her faith. Soon after she sees a young boy about her child Noris’s age get shot dead, she has a change of heart. Patria says, “Coming down that mountain, I was a changed woman…I was carrying not just my child but that dead boy as well” (162). Here, Patria’s faith is restored knowing that not only her and her unborn baby survives, but she knows God is sending her the message to fight against Trujillo and save His children.

The bombing on the mountain side during Patria’s church retreat helps her realize that she needs to fight for her country and family because she knows that is what the Lord put her on earth to do. Patria realizes after the bombing she is not going to let Trujillo kill innocent people and her family, so she says to God, “I’m not going to sit back and watch my babies die, Lord…” (162). This is when Patria decides to become a martyr against the reign of Trujillo, and she has confidence that the Lord put her here to do this because she says, “The minute I walked into that room, I knew something had changed in the way the Lord Jesus would be among us”(163). Patria has so much faith in God that she even makes her house the “motherhouse” of the Fourteenth of June Movement to overthrow Trujillo. She pleads Pedrito to join the movement and says, “…how can we be true Christians and turn our back on our brothers and sisters…” (166). Here Patria knows in her heart that God will keep them safe, so that is why she tries to get her loved ones involved. Her trust in the Lord is so strong she even goes against the government and has bombs built in her house because she feels as if it is her job as a Christian. Patria refers to her life as a house saying, “…I built it back up with prayer, hung the door on the creaky hinges, nailed the floorboards down…” (168). She has come to the conclusion that this is what she is supposed to do, and from all the bad she can create something good.

Patria is a martyr because she knows God will protect her and that it is her responsibility as a Christian is to protect the children of God. The SIM (police) find out about the plans for the revolution against Trujillo, and they come to Patria’s house and lock up her son Nelson and her husband. Patria proves she is a martyr when she pleads, “Take me instead, please. I beg you for the love of God” (195). This shows she is willing to suffer in jail and have her husband and son safe. Also, when the SIM ransack and burn her house down, she is still willing to undergo tragedies as a martyr because she knows that it happened for a reason- to fulfill her job as a Christian.

Many people today see the Mirabal sisters as heroines, and in many ways that is true. But being a heroine does not mean you cannot be an ordinary person. The Mirabal sisters are examples, as they all grow up with a desire for an education, to get married, and to have children. They too, like everybody else have their family problems such as having a father who cheats on their mother, having unknown half-sisters, and even dealing with death. During the Fourteenth of June Movement, there are about forty people to help with the revolution. Out of all of those people, the only ones to get recognized are Minerva, Patria and Mate Mirabal. The Mirabal sisters are just like all those ordinary people who helped to try to start the revolution, they were just the faces behind all the rebellion, determination, and faith. They just wanted their children and fellow Dominican Republicans to live a free and better life than they did. Patria Mirabal is a woman of strong faith, and without her belief in God she could have not accomplished what she did for the Dominican Republic today.

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Mirabal Martyrdom in In the Time of the Butterflies

July 22, 2019 by Essay Writer

The novel In the The Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, consists of a frame narrative told by the only Mirabal sister to survive the reign of Trujillo, Dede Mirabal. This story takes place in the Dominican Republic all the way back in 1938, leading up to the “present” time in 1994. At this time in the Dominican Republic, the country is being ruled by a man named Trujillo, and he is making their homeland an unsafe and horrible place. As young girls, the Mirabal sisters do not find Trujillo as any threat to them. They hear stories that he has many girlfriends and that Trujillo has people killed for him, but the ends did not seem to meet until after they grow up, get married, and have children. Patria Mirabal tries to put the rule of Trujillo deep in the back of her mind, but soon finds that as a child of God she should fight for what she believes in and put an end to the long list of sins Trujillo has committed. Patria uses her faith as a weapon to stay strong during the reign of Trujillo because she feels she has to fight for her son, husband, sisters, children, and the people of the Dominican Republic.

Patria has an unbreakable bond with God because she trusts His plans for her life even though she has suffered through many tragedies. Patria grows into a young woman and marries a man named Pedrito. She gets pregnant and as her due date arrives, a dead child arrives as well. At a time like this, Patria could lose her faith in God due to this miscarriage, but she does not. She tells her mother, “It is the Lord’s will” (53). Later on in Patria’s life at the age of twenty- four, she quotes God and says, “Build your house on a rock, do my will. And though the rain fall and the floods come and the winds blow, the good wife’s house will stand” (148).She then says, “I had built my house on solid rock, all right” (148). Here it seems Patria is content with what God blesses her with, but the true test to see if she if she has faith in Him is when she goes on a church retreat and comes out alive after a bombing by Trujillo near her retreat house. The bombs explode and Patria thinks, “…His Kingdom was coming down upon the very roof of that retreat house” (161). This shows the true way Patria feels at the time, an image of her Lord’s Kingdom falling down on her “crushing” her faith. Soon after she sees a young boy about her child Noris’s age get shot dead, she has a change of heart. Patria says, “Coming down that mountain, I was a changed woman…I was carrying not just my child but that dead boy as well” (162). Here, Patria’s faith is restored knowing that not only her and her unborn baby survives, but she knows God is sending her the message to fight against Trujillo and save His children.

The bombing on the mountain side during Patria’s church retreat helps her realize that she needs to fight for her country and family because she knows that is what the Lord put her on earth to do. Patria realizes after the bombing she is not going to let Trujillo kill innocent people and her family, so she says to God, “I’m not going to sit back and watch my babies die, Lord…” (162). This is when Patria decides to become a martyr against the reign of Trujillo, and she has confidence that the Lord put her here to do this because she says, “The minute I walked into that room, I knew something had changed in the way the Lord Jesus would be among us”(163). Patria has so much faith in God that she even makes her house the “motherhouse” of the Fourteenth of June Movement to overthrow Trujillo. She pleads Pedrito to join the movement and says, “…how can we be true Christians and turn our back on our brothers and sisters…” (166). Here Patria knows in her heart that God will keep them safe, so that is why she tries to get her loved ones involved. Her trust in the Lord is so strong she even goes against the government and has bombs built in her house because she feels as if it is her job as a Christian. Patria refers to her life as a house saying, “…I built it back up with prayer, hung the door on the creaky hinges, nailed the floorboards down…” (168). She has come to the conclusion that this is what she is supposed to do, and from all the bad she can create something good.

Patria is a martyr because she knows God will protect her and that it is her responsibility as a Christian is to protect the children of God. The SIM (police) find out about the plans for the revolution against Trujillo, and they come to Patria’s house and lock up her son Nelson and her husband. Patria proves she is a martyr when she pleads, “Take me instead, please. I beg you for the love of God” (195). This shows she is willing to suffer in jail and have her husband and son safe. Also, when the SIM ransack and burn her house down, she is still willing to undergo tragedies as a martyr because she knows that it happened for a reason- to fulfill her job as a Christian.

Many people today see the Mirabal sisters as heroines, and in many ways that is true. But being a heroine does not mean you cannot be an ordinary person. The Mirabal sisters are examples, as they all grow up with a desire for an education, to get married, and to have children. They too, like everybody else have their family problems such as having a father who cheats on their mother, having unknown half-sisters, and even dealing with death. During the Fourteenth of June Movement, there are about forty people to help with the revolution. Out of all of those people, the only ones to get recognized are Minerva, Patria and Mate Mirabal. The Mirabal sisters are just like all those ordinary people who helped to try to start the revolution, they were just the faces behind all the rebellion, determination, and faith. They just wanted their children and fellow Dominican Republicans to live a free and better life than they did. Patria Mirabal is a woman of strong faith, and without her belief in God she could have not accomplished what she did for the Dominican Republic today.

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Minerva’s Struggle

May 13, 2019 by Essay Writer

Although this is an era when violence is frowned upon and war deplored, still the soldier has remained an esteemed figure. Even more appealing to the imagination are tales of tyrants and the courage of the underground guerillas that oppose them. Such almost mythic status has been conferred upon three sisters, nicknamed the Butterflies, who participated in the fight against the thirty-year dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. While heroic deeds take the spotlight, one may forget that even freedom fighters begin as children. That they learn as children and grow as humans, fallibly and inconstantly, is a fact remembered by Dominican novelist Julia Alvarez. In Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies, she uses several turning points in the life of Minerva Mirabal to define that character’s growth as a human being rather than a hero.Alvarez uses two turning points in Minerva’s childhood to show her potential for the life ahead of her, yet emphasize her childish innocence. In the beginning of the novel, Alvarez introduces Minerva to the reader with Minerva’s excitement that her Pap plans to send her away to school. School becomes Minerva’s first victory and step towards her life as a revolutionary fighter. This, Minerva says, “[i]s how I got free” (13). Alvarez uses Minerva’s departure for school and her excitement for it to signify Minerva’s early emotional divorce from the need for her parents’ approval and dependence on their value system, while demonstrating with this scene how independent and strong-minded Minerva is, as compared especially to her sisters. At school, Minerva experiences a prelude to what may be the biggest turning point in her life. For all her independence, she still believes in the propaganda that Trujillo and his administration have spread. Her good friend Sinita tells Minerva a story of Trujillo’s evil as they whisper under blankets late at night like the schoolgirls they are. Minerva says to Sinita, ” ‘Bad things?…Trujillo was doing bad things?’ It was as if I had just heard Jesus had slapped a baby” (17). Although Minerva does not fully accept the image of Trujillo as a tyrant, when she wakes up the next morning she finds that she has received her first period; Alvarez has made her a woman. When Trujillo seduces a classmate named Lina, she comes to realize his corruption, if not with the maturity of an adult, saying, “I felt sorry for him. Pobrecito! At night, he probably had nightmare after nightmare like I did, just thinking about what he’d done (24). Alvarez illustrates Minerva’s childlike faith in a world where guilt accompanies sin, and to such an extent as to draw pity. Here Alvarez places her in a position from which she may step into her new role as a rebel, while also demonstrating that she is currently too young for such responsibility.As Minerva grows older, Alvarez uses Minerva’s impulsiveness to allow her to realize her own strength. Minerva confronts Pap after finding that he has fathered illegitimate children, and “saw his shoulders droop…right then and there, it hit me harder than his slap: I was much stronger than Pap…He was the weakest one of all” (89). Alvarez led Minerva to discover her power by her own actions in order to justify her portrayal of the character as drawing strength from herself while also giving it to those around her. Minerva’s energy and conviction in herself and in her cause carries her into a role in the underground and then into and through La 40, a prison. Alvarez shows Minerva’s strength there through the admiring, if sullen, eyes of her younger sister and comrade, Mara Teresa, who, after crying, says, “Lord forbid Minerva should see me, or she’d give me another one of her talks about morale” (233). Minerva has assumed a motherly role in the uprising. However, after Trujillo grants Minerva and her sister release and puts them under house arrest, Minerva’s spirit takes a turn for the worse. She says, “[I was] shocked at what I was letting happen to me. I had been so much stronger and braver in prison. Now at home I was falling apart” (258). Her bravery becomes little more than a performance, and Alvarez emphasizes the change with the many acquaintances who lean close to Minerva to whisper, “Vivan las Mariposas!” Although many still look to Minerva for leadership and strength, she is not always able to provide it for herself.Alvarez, while she does not flinch from showing Minerva’s faults, also does not deprive the girl of the more heroic standing she has built towards. She does not allow Minerva to wallow in her sorrow for much longer, and another turning point comes when she and her sisters fear than their husbands will be executed. Minerva reflects that “By now in my life I should have known. Adversity was like a key in the lock for me. As I began to work to get our men out of prison, it was the old Minerva I set free” (269). The challenge gives Minerva reason to rise again. Although, due to the fact that she is tightly guarded, Minerva never again reaches the level of political activity she had as a free woman, she and her sisters do begin to investigate the state of their old underground once more. That Minerva’s spirit is whole and healthy again is clearly demonstrated by Alvarez near the very closing of the book. Even as Minerva and her sisters travel towards what appears to be an ambush, Minerva feels an air of excitement. She ventures, “I don’t know quite how to say this, but it was as if we were girls again, walking through the dark part of the yard, a little afraid, a little excited by our fears, anticipation the lighted house just around the bend – That’s the way I felt as we started up the first mountain” (297). Although Alvarez reports that Minerva felt excited as she and her sisters “started up the first mountain,” in reality, most of Minerva’s mountains have already been crossed. She begins as a naive child, encounters injustice, fights it, becomes depressed, and then after all this rights herself. Alvarez conveys through this that Minerva’s resurrection, while not the most revered of her acts or the one that earned her the love of her country, may be her most heroic stage of life; a hero must not only overcome threats to her country but threats to her spirit.Alvarez reveals the theme that a few people, while they may not cause an entire revolution, can provide inspiration and motivation for others. While the Butterfly sisters represent this motif of bravery for the Dominican Republic, Minerva likewise represents it for her family. Although each sister has her own inner strength, only Minerva has enough to both fortify herself and sustain others. She passes though many stages of life in the novel as her country’s political situation develops. Although it is ironic in the traditional sense of a hero’s unassailable person that both Minerva and her foe Trujillo are eventually brought down, and she much sooner than he, it is consistent with Alvarez’s depiction of Minerva as not a traditional hero, but a woman.

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Altruistic Obsessions: Tragic Flaws in ‘The Boy in the Suitcase’ and ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’

March 2, 2019 by Essay Writer

The critical nature of modern society causes the people being judged to feel isolated, ashamed, and worthless. Due to this, contemporary individuals believe that they have to be perfect, in appearance and character traits, in order to conform with others. As a result, people spend tremendous amounts of time developing certain traits to make themselves more likeable. Unfortunately, they are missing vital information regarding the danger of possessing positive personality traits. Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, authors of The Boy in the Suitcase, and Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies, investigate the transformation of positive character traits into tragic flaws through their main characters. In their novels, the authors demonstrate that excessive devotion to noble personality traits leads to the characters’ undoing.

The main characters from both novels, the Mirabal sisters from In the Time of the Butterflies and Nina Borg from The Boy in the Suitcase, possessed noble intentions when carrying out their work. In addition, they were further encouraged to continue contributing to their causes by the support of other people. Maria Theresa, one of the Mirabal sisters, wrote in her diary about her feelings regarding the revolutionary movement in the Dominican Republic: “Something big and powerful spread its wings inside me. Courage, I told myself. And this time, I felt it” (Alvarez 238). When opposing the dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo, the Mirabal sisters were largely guided by their courage and the desire to make a positive change to their lives. In a similar way, Nina Borg from The Boy in the Suitcase was guided by righteous intentions when attempting to return Mikas to his mother while saving him from Jucas; Nina “spends her spare time helping all the children, women, and crippled little men no one else in all of fucking Denmark seemed to care about” (Kaaberbøl and Friis 160). Being a Red Cross nurse and mother, Nina Borg felt that it was her duty to save the little boy from being a victim of child trafficking, which says a lot about the kindness of her character.

Having such noble intentions, the main characters from the two novels were also supported by people around them, which encouraged them to continue their work. The Mirabal sisters were encouraged by many people around the Dominican Republic. While the sisters were in prison, “everyone was beating on the bars, shouting, ¡Viva la Mariposa!” (Alvarez 238). Surely, the tremendous support from other people motivated the sisters to continue their opposition to Trujillo’s regime. Although Nina Borg did not have the same quantity of supporters as the sisters, she still had a few people who trusted her and helped her. While telling Nina to take the suitcase from the locker, her friend Karin noted, “I can’t do this… But you [can]. You’re always so keen on saving people” (Kaaberbøl and Friis 34). Through her words, Karin shows trust in Nina’s abilities and highlights Nina’s desire to save people. In addition to Karin, Nina’s colleagues show respect to her and value her contribution to the organization. In summary, the main characters from the two novels committed righteous actions because of their positive personality traits and the support they were receiving. At this point, it seems like the main characters dedicate themselves to their respective causes and become better people because of it. This, unfortunately, begins to change as the characters become more committed to their causes.

Guided by external support and noble intentions, the main characters from the two novels became obsessed with their causes, which jump-started the process of their destruction. Minerva, one of the Mirabal sisters, gave away her son Manolito to Patria so that she could focus on the revolution. When Minerva did this, Patria responded to her, “But Minerva, your own child.” Patria then saw that “it did hurt [Minerva] to make this sacrifice she was convinced she needed to make” (Alvarez 155). Determined to remove Trujillo from power, Minerva chose the revolution over her own family. Since Minerva made painful sacrifices to the cause, her shift from family loyalty to loyalty to the revolution signifies an obsession. In a similar fashion, the loyalty of Nina Borg to her family has always been below her loyalty to helping other people in the Red Cross. After calling Morten, Nina realized that “it had been her turn [to pick up Anton from child care], had to have been, and somehow she would have felt better about it, more secure, if Morten had thrown a fit… Morten had already forgotten she was there” (Kaaberbøl and Friis 70-71). Even before encountering Mikas, Nina often forgot to care for her own children, which is seen by the absence of a response from Morten, who is accustomed to her irresponsibility. She once left her five-month-old daughter with Morten while she travelled as a volunteer nurse to Liberia, all without telling him until she was at the airport. Being a nurse and helping other people began replacing other important things in Nina’s life, like her family.

Likewise, Minerva viewed many things in her life as distractions from the revolution. Before joining the revolution, María Theresa compared Minerva and Manolo’s relationship to her own with Leandro in her diary: “I would never be able to give up Leandro to some higher ideal the way I feel Minerva and Manolo would each other if they had to make the supreme sacrifice” (Alvarez 147). Minerva’s actions convinced Mate that the only thing on her mind was the revolutionary struggle. In fact, Minerva’s marriage to Manolo can be viewed as a revolutionary partnership because they spent most of their time partaking in the movement. Comparably, Nina’s marriage to Morten turned into a partnership as their relationship worsened. Nina’s rash behavior caused Morten to take care of the children on his own while she engaged in her work with the Red Cross. In a way, Nina used Morten in order to fulfill her dreams and her obsession. In summary, the noble causes of the Mirabal sisters and Nina Borg replaced other aspects of their lives and made them addicted. Although their efforts were genuine and were caused by their positive personal qualities, their minds were clouded by their goals. The amount of time they spent contributing to their respective causes directly correlated with the deterioration of their relationships with others.

Not only did the actions of the main characters induce their relationships with others to degenerate, but they also led to their downfall in the case of the Mirabal sisters and almost became the undoing of Nina Borg. In In the Time of the Butterflies, Patria and Mate soon followed Minerva in her revolutionary struggles against Trujillo. After Patria decided to join the revolution, she described herself: “…here in that little room was the same Patria Mercedes, who wouldn’t have hurt a butterfly, shouting, ‘Amen to the revolution’” (Alvarez 163-164). Minerva’s preoccupation with the revolution spread to Patria, making her almost as obsessed with it as Minerva was. Like the Mirabal sisters, Nina Borg lost her head over trying to find Mikas’s mother. When Barbara showed up at Nina’s door, Nina immediately thought that it was “Mikas’s mother, holding her hand and thanking her, as only one mother could thank another. Her happy ending. It was here, now” (Kaaberbøl and Friis 257). As Nina saw Barbara, she was instantly convinced that she was the genuine mother and mentally granted herself the title of a heroine. Nina’s obsession with helping people clouded her mind when she had the chance to have a happy ending and to fulfill her goal. As a result of her reckless actions, she let Jucas into her home, who battered her and left a bag tied around her head so that she suffocated. By pure luck, Nina woke up before she asphyxiated and managed to pull the bag away from her face. By clouding her mind, her obsession with helping people almost got her killed. Although initially righteous and harmless, Nina’s kind personality trait became her mania that almost made her perish. Unlike Nina, the revolutionary Mirabal sisters were not saved by luck. Dedé described what happened to her sisters: “They killed them good and dead… they put the dead girls in the back of the Jeep… they pushed the car over the edge” (Alvarez 303). Because of the revolutionary work the Mirabal sisters have done, Trujillo’s henchmen assassinated them and made it look like an accident. The dedication of the sisters to the revolution became their hamartia. In the novels, the Mirabal sisters died and Nina Borg came close to death because of their excessive commitment to their noble causes. Although guided by positive personality traits, these characters took it too far, and their obsession caused them to severely underestimate their abilities.

A positive personality trait becomes a tragic flaw when the person is obsessed with it and guided solely by it. Although the courage of the Mirabal sisters inspired others around them, it proved harmful to the sisters themselves. In Nina’s case, her kindness helped her save a child, but she almost died because of it. In addition, her relationship with Morten worsened due to her willingness to help others. Because of these negative effects of personality trait obsession, modern people need to be aware of the dangers of blindly following a single trait, even if it is a positive one. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.” Likewise, when a person finds a passion in a personality trait, they instantly begin seeing opportunities where to implement that trait. As Thomas Jefferson said, the imagination of the person takes no notice of the reasons against the theory, or in the case of personality traits, reasons to not apply them to a situation. Of course, having a positive personality trait has its benefits, but efforts must be made to prevent it from governing one’s actions.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2010.

Kaaberbol, Lene, and Agnete Friis. The Boy in the Suitcase. Soho Crime, 2012.

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