In the novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, what were Patria's and Minerva's attitudes towards motherhood?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Motherhood defines Patria's life.  Married at sixteen, she has two children in quick succession, and she "treasure(s) (her) children more than (her) own life".  She speaks of her "hardworking motherbody", and her arms yearn to hold babies.  Even as she begins to see the monstrousness of Trujillo's regime, she avoids becoming involved in the revolutionary movement because of her children, and the catalyst which finally leads to her participation is when she sees a young resistance soldier killed before her eyes, and realizes that he, too, is one of her own.  Patria's mother-instinct extends to "brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, one and all, (the) human family" (Patria 1959).  Even when Patria's son Nelson is imprisoned, she tries to soften her heart towards Trujillo by appealing to the mother-sense within herself, by trying to pretend he is her boy too, albeit "a troubled one in need of guidance" (Patria - January to March 1960_).

Minerva loves her children too, but motherhood does not define her existence.  Consumed with fervor for the revolution, she does not marry until the age of twenty-nine.  When her involvement with the resistance becomes too demanding and dangerous, she regretfully gives her little ones over to Patria's care.

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In the Time of the Butterflies

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