Minerva is the first to lose her innocence. At boarding school she befriends Sinita, who tells her the unspoken secrets of Trujillo's violent regime, and reveals that all the men in her own family have been killed because of their politics. Minerva also witnesses the fate of Lina, a schoolmate who is used and disgraced after the lecherous Trujillo becomes infatuated with her (Ch. 2).
Young Mate is close to her sister Minerva. She learns Minerva is going to secret meetings at a friend's grandfather's house. The grandfather is in trouble with the police because he won't hang Trujillo's picture on his wall as mandated. When Mate asks Minerva why she would do such a dangerous thing, Minerva replies that "she want(s) me to grow up in a free country". Mate recognizes the truth of what her sister says (Ch. 3).
Patria has always had a deep faith in God, and has not paid much attention to the injustices and atrocities Minerva has told her about. Then her third child is born dead, and in a crisis of faith, Patria is finally able to understand the suffering of the victims Minerva champions (Ch. 4).
Dede's awakening comes when she meets Lio, an "enemy of the state". Although she never develops a relationship with him, thinking about his subversive beliefs and activities, and about what is right and wrong, causes Dede to understand that they are in fact living "in a police state" (Ch. 5).