Summary and main points of Chapter 9?

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Chapter 9 in Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies describes Dede's final interaction with her interviewer, as well as her final decision to not join the underground movement.

As all of Dede's chapters begin in the present, 1994, chapter nine concludes Dede's interview in the present. The chapter opens with Dede insisting that the interviewer can stay longer, even though she has recited a line of a poem that indicates the night is late: "And the shades of night begin to fall, and the traveler hurries home, and the campesino bids his fields farewell" (171). This line cycles back to Dede at the end of the chapter, revealing its true significance.

In the meantime, Dede ends her interview, and as the interviewer is leaving, Minou arrives from visiting Fela. She insists that Fela has said that the girls won't come anymore because they are finally at rest. However, Dede reassures Minou that the girls are actually with her that evening and will return to give her more messages in the future. Minou then asks Dede if she can ask her any question, as she does with Fela. Dede agrees to this, knowing the question in advance. Of course, Minou asks her why she didn't go along with the other sisters' involvement in the underground movement. Dede then flashes back to 1960, when she decided to not join her sisters.

Dede's first encounter with the movement is when Patria asks her to hide boxes in her fields. However, Jaimito refuses to permit this, and furthermore, he demands that Dede stay away from her sisters. Yet Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa soon come to Dede to ask her directly to join the movement, leaving Dede to make her decision.

Initially, Dede vows to leave Jaimito and join her sisters. She romanticizes about when she first met Lio and imagines "Lio's surprise at hearing Dede had joined her sisters" (181). However, Dede is torn over the potential reality of losing her boys if she leaves Jaimito, and therefore, she seeks the advice of the priest. After insisting that she see the priest despite Jaimito's lack of permission, she discovers the priest, Padre de Jesus, is involved in the underground movement. She realizes that he will of course encourage her to leave Jaimito and join the movement. Yet her greater realization is that it is not Jaimito preventing her from joining the movement, but fear—"She was afraid, plain and simple, just as she had been afraid to face her powerful feelings for Lio" (184).

Upon returning home from the priest, Dede discovers that Jaimito has taken her boys to the house of his mother, Dona Leila. She immediately enlists the help of Minerva and Manolo in getting Jaimito to return the boys. To break the tension between everyone, Manolo suggests that Jaimito and Dede take a second honeymoon, which they do, sealing Dede's decision to remain with Jaimito.

After their trip, "the roundup started," and Leandro, Pedrito, Nelson, and Manolo are arrested and taken to prison. The sisters believe the worst is over, with their husbands taken and houses ransacked, but then Minerva and Maria Teresa are also arrested. Dede finds out about Minerva's arrest when she is trying to bring Minerva money to help with her debt. Dede and Jaimito immediately drive to Mama's house to find Maria Teresa being taken away. They follow her but fail to bring her back home.

Jaimito and Dede make plans to petition for the release of Minerva and Maria Teresa the following day. Meanwhile, Patria leads a rosary. That night, Dede struggles to fall asleep, and as she lies awake, she recognizes that she "could not run away" (198) and instead has to "fortify her spirit" (198). She begins to recite the line of the poem from the beginning of the chapter and remembers both a cool night and Minerva's tactic to remain sane in prison by reciting lines from poems or songs. Dede confuses in her mind "Minerva's exercise and her poem about the falling of night" (199), leaving her with both a childhood memory and "the premonition" (199) that she is entering "the center of hell" (199). Either way, though, her fate is bound up with that of her sisters—not directly, but indirectly, in that the loss of her sisters is a loss of a part of Dede.

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