copping out? How Dede turns outIn Butterflies, we find Dede as having become rather "Americanized" when we meet her:  she is an insurance saleswoman, she drives a big car, she is...

copping out? How Dede turns out

In Butterflies, we find Dede as having become rather "Americanized" when we meet her:  she is an insurance saleswoman, she drives a big car, she is divorced--all markers of an American culture rather than a traditional Dominican Repubic culture for women.  Some critics find that Alvarez ends up emulating as "free" the "Yankee" influence, expressed at other times in the novel as imperialistic.  By this I mean she doesn't discover or embrace a post-colonial culture that has a place for women that still embraces aspects of the traditional--that for her, finally, freedom from Trujillo means embracing American ways of being.   Do you think this is a legitimate view of ths post-colonial novel? 

Asked on by sagetrieb

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There is certainly an extent to which Dede will always be haunted by the fact of her survival and her sisters' deaths, quite obviously. However, I appreciate the dilemma of Dede as expressed in #2. How could she have tried to move on from the experience? On the one hand, she has made the most of the opportunities that her sisters, among others, died for the Dominican Republic to achieve. It is for these opportunities that they thought and risked their lives, wasn't it? Can we really judge Dede for making the most of such opportunities?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I think Dede's life after her sisters isn't a sell-out. Perhaps she sees living in America as one of the best ways to carry on the memory of her sisters and what they did. America allows her the freedom to tell the story of her sisters whereas her native country would not. I just don't think Dede could stay in the Dominican Republic because she had so many memories there.

sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

But does Dede really "embrace" Americanism, or has by the end of the novel, has she discovered that she has allowed it to carry her along, like her decision to marry (oh, what was his name, Jamillo?), her decision to hold back from activism? 

CAN a woman embrace the traditional and not be considered a sell-out?  What could Dede have done to both reject American or colonial influences and also be free? 

 

In a post-colonnial county, "traditional" would precede the colonial influence, which in the case of the Dominical Republic would be both Spanish (the Conquistadors, whom Trujillo celebrates but Minvera understands for what they were) and America (the Yanqees, whom Minerva and other voices criticize).  Traditional would go back to original, which the book refers to through myths, "wise sayings," and so on. But what that would look like, the traditional of that island, I'm not sure.  And it would also mean merging that traditional with a new role of women--one theme of the novel is the role of women in nationalist struggles, and it critiques the structures that produce patriarchal nationalism.  The novel also celebrates women for being women, to be sure, but that criticism of patriarchy and nationalism is quite pronounced.  by the end of the novel, however, it reifies gendered national dichotomies.  I love the fact the women are women, that they like to buy purses and remain true to their political convictions, but Dede might move away from that interesting confluence by the end. 

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

But does Dede really "embrace" Americanism, or has by the end of the novel, has she discovered that she has allowed it to carry her along, like her decision to marry (oh, what was his name, Jamillo?), her decision to hold back from activism? 

CAN a woman embrace the traditional and not be considered a sell-out?  What could Dede have done to both reject American or colonial influences and also be free? 

 

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