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In the Time of the Butterflies (Feminist Approach)

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Lorelie Elaine Soriano

on 1 March 2013

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Transcript of In the Time of the Butterflies (Feminist Approach)

"'What if I can't'" Dede's voice shook. 'Jaimito thinks it's suicide. He's told me he'll have to leave me if I get mixed up in this thing.' There, she'd said it...She was hiding behind her husband's fears"(180). By: Laine Soriano In the first quote, Dede was scared that her husband, Jaimito will leave her if she joined her sisters in the resistance.
In the second quote, Patria's husband was furious with her because she wanted him to join her in the resistance along with their eldest son, however Pedrito was against it because of the risk of losing their land. In these two quotes, Jaimito and Pedrito were angry at their wives because their wives wanted to join the rebellion while they were totally against it. They expected their wives to give in to them and just forget about their wish to join the rebellion.
This expectation shows the men look at their wives and womenfolk as having less power than them and it emphasizes the patriarchal culture that the Dominican Republic has. In the first quote, Patria told her sister's that she made the decision herself first then talked to her husband. She did not let her husband scare her or overpower her.
In the second quote, Dede finally decided to leave her dominating husband and she was telling herself that she doesn't need to be afraid of him and she didn't let her husband's look threaten her.
In the last quote, Maria Teresa showed how mature she had gotten by joining her sister in the revolution on her own free will and even saying that those little boys she met before are nothing to her anymore, she had outgrown them. In these three quotes, the sisters practically were saying that they would not let the men in their lives dominate them and that they would decide on their own. They did not let their husbands scare them or feel threatened by them. This shows the equal authority the Mirabal sisters had with their husbands thus showing female strength and power.
This equal authority undermines the influence husbands and fathers have on their daughters or wives that the patriarchal Dominican culture has as a part of the country’s image. In the Dominican Republic, women were expected to abide by what their husbands and fathers say or decide for them. Women were portrayed to have less power and authority than men, however, Alvarez showed female strength and power by demonstrating the equal authority that the Mirabal sisters have with their husbands. Their power was also shown by their willingness to challenge gender limitations that were forced on them by their patriarchal Dominican culture. In both quotes, Minerva demonstrates how determined she is to reach her dream of studying law and having a role in the government.
In the first quote, Minerva just blurted out her opinion that women should have a say in the government even though she knows that the government's secret police can hear every word she is saying and her whole family can get in trouble.
In the second quote, Minerva was trying to persuade Trujillo himself to let her study law in the capital which would make her father to let her study law as well. In the patriarchal culture of the
Dominican Republic, the gender limitations of females include their expected occupation of being a housewife and/or taking care of the farm along with their husbands. However, Minerva demonstrated her strong desire to study law and she even had the courage to talk to the devil himself, Trujillo, to let her study law.
This willingness to challenge their gender limitations showed Mirabal sisters' power and
strength. The first quote is delivering the message that even heroines have their weaknesses and fears, however, their ability to overcome those weaknesses shows their fiery will to reach their goal of saving their country from Trujillo.
The second quote specifically talks about Minerva. It talks about how daring Minerva could become if its for the sake of the rebellion.
The third quote was centered on Dede's courage which was fairly equal to Minerva's courage even though in the novel, they were often portrayed as opposites. The quote emphasizes the fact the Dede was not afraid to admit her guilt and failures. Her strength was also shown by her taking the responsibility of taking care of her sister's children as well as her drive to keep living her life after her sister's death. The sisters' courage and determination are described and emphasized in these three quotes. The first and third quote talks about the girls fears and one of those fears was straining their relationship with their husbands, atleast in the case of Patria and Dede. However, their will to face and overcome these fears for the sake of the rebellion shows their female strength and power because it demonstrates equality between them and their husbands.
As for the second quote, it shows Minerva's huge dedication to this resistance that she would sacrifice anything for the future of her children and her country. This also goes for all of the Mirabal sisters. However, the point is that who would've thought that this group of women would be this involved in this political revolution. This shows the sisters' fearlessness in challenging the expectation of women in the Dominican Republic. "'It is just what this country needs.' Minerva's voice has the steely sureness it gets whenever she talks about politics. 'It's about time we women had a voice in running our country"(10). "'That's exactly what I'm trying to convince Papa to do. I want to go to the university,' I confess, playing this man against my own father. If El Jefe says he wants me to study, Papa will have to let me. 'I've always wanted to study law'"(98). "'But can't you decide on your own, then tell him?' ...'That's what i did,' Patria went on. 'I joined, and then I talked Pedrito into joining me'"(176). "Jaimito did not return her wave as they drove away from Ojo de Agua. Something threatening in his look scared her. But Dede kept reminding herself she need not to be afraid. She was going to be leaving him"(183). "I told Minerva and Monolo right out, I wanted to join...Suddenly, all the boys I've known with soft hands and easy lives seem like the pretty dolls I've outgrown and passed on to Minou"(142). "'Your first responsibility is to your children, your husband, and your home!' his face was so clouded in anger, I couldn't see the man I loved"(166). “Alvarez also employs the sisters' weaknesses, fears, and even their selfishness to emphasize their strength in overcoming these hindrances.” "She is the one most identified with the resistance against Trujillo because of her beauty, her public rebellions, her conspicuous intelligence, and her leadership in the underground movement. Alvarez exhibits these same attributes in her Minerva, especially her vehement, outspoken hatred of injustice in any form.” “She also explores the capacity for courage that lies hidden in people until times of crisis. After her sisters' deaths, Dedé had to remain strong for her nieces and nephews, as well as for those who admired her sisters... but Alvarez effectively portrays Dedé's honest appraisals of her failures, her unwillingness to hide from her guilt, and her resolve to keep living and finding happiness. Source: Felty, Darren, in an essay for Novels for Students, Gale, 2000. The Mirabal sisters' husbands' expectation that their wives would just give in to them and their expectation that their wives wouldn't even dare defy them express how women were portrayed to have less power than men in the Dominican Republic.
However, the sister's refusal to let their husbands influence their choices shows that they did have equal authority with their husbands in discussing important affairs such as joining the revolution.
Their persistence in confronting their gender limitations and expectations show their courage and determination to do whatever it takes and their will to sacrifice anything for their cause, for their dreams and for the future of their loved ones. In the Time of the Butterflies Julia Alvarez

(Feminist Approach)
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