Caterpillars to Butterflies: A Metamorphosis Essay

Caterpillars to Butterflies: A Metamorphosis Essay

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From the secretive government agent who foils the plans of dastardly supervillains to the Prince Charming who saves Disney princesses, courage invokes many spectacular images in people’s minds. Yet courage appears in subtler forms as well – the resident nerd awkwardly asking a crush to Prom, the belittled girl holding her head up high amidst gossip, or the concerned citizen stopping to fix a broken-down vehicle on the roadside. As a past resident of the Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s regime, Julia Alvarez understands these differing types of courage, and this knowledge permeates through the pages of her book, In the Time of the Butterflies. Published in 1994, Alvarez’s book explores the concept of courage by taking the reader on a riveting journey through the minds of Maria Teresa, Patria, and Dede. Each character expresses various types of courage; Maria Teresa exhibits courage through her ability to keep her self-discipline during desolate times, Patria demonstrates bravery through her ability to reconcile her religious beliefs with that of the revolution, and Dede illustrates valor through her willingness to take care of her extended family and keep the Mirabal legend alive.

Maria Teresa’s capability to remain calm and collected despite the bleakness surrounding her demonstrates true courage. At the beginning of the novel, Maria Teresa appears innocent and naïve, always writing in her diary about inane topics such as “these newest patent leather shoes…[and] Minerva giving up swimming in our lagoon [and a pretty suit] in exchange for divine help in becoming a lawyer” (Alvarez 35). As the novel progresses, Maria Teresa still writes in her diary, but she must now face the horrors of Trujillo’s regime with resolution and str...


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... in 1994, Alvarez’s novel In the Time of the Butterflies delves into the concept of courage by analyzing the thoughts of Maria Teresa, Patria, and Dede. Each sister demonstrates a different type of courage – Maria Teresa shows self-discipline in the face of adversity, Patria grapples with her religious doubts head-on, and Dede keeps the Mirabal legend alive. Yet a person does not need to time-travel to the Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s regime to become brave. After all, courage starts at home, and the small, brave actions of the millions who speak their mind freely can prove more effective than the martyrdom of any one person.


Works Cited

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1994. Print.
Overy, Richard. "The Blitz." n.d. WW2 History. Web. 19 March 2014.
The New King James Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

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