Liberty Summary

Synopsis

"Liberty" is a short story by Julia Alvarez and was first published in 1996 in a collection titled Writers Harvest 2: A Collection of New Fiction. Alvarez is of Dominican origin and frequently represents the culture and political turmoil of the Dominican Republic in her writing. The story “Liberty” is set in the Dominican Republic sometime during the late 1950s or early 1960s. The unnamed narrator is a young girl, one of four sisters who live with their parents. One day, their father, Papi, brings home a black and white puppy. Although the girls are excited to have the dog, their mother, Mami, says that the dog will be nothing but trouble. The dog has been given to the family by the American consul, Mister Victor, who is helping them get visas to go to the United States, so Papi names the dog Liberty. Symbolically, the dog represents the hope for liberty that the family has as they try to move away from the Dominican Republic's political troubles. The narrator does not fully understand the impending danger until one day when Liberty scampers outside the fence and she chases after him. The narrator is confronted by two frightening-looking men in the bushes, and they force her to promise that she will not tell anyone that she has seen them. The encounter scares the narrator, and she remains silent. Soon after, her parents and some men who work with Mister Victor gather the family and their belongings in the middle of the night so that they can immediately board a plane to America. The narrator begs her mother to take Liberty, but Mami tells her that the dog will not be able to pass through U. S. Customs. Fearing that the men will return and hurt the dog if he is left behind, the narrator lets him out of the yard and kicks him until he runs away. She hopes that he will run all the way to the United States so that she will have “liberty” when she and her family arrive in their new home.

Ed. Scott Locklear