What does The Flame Tree represent in the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez?The Flame Tree is brought up on page 47, but I cannot figure out what it is supposed to represent....

What does The Flame Tree represent in the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez?

The Flame Tree is brought up on page 47, but I cannot figure out what it is supposed to represent. Thanks for your help.

Expert Answers
gretc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this chapter narrated by an adolescent Patria, the image of the flame tree represents Patria herself--as a blossoming young woman. The flame tree shows its bright red flowers in the springtime before it produces leaves. Its beauty is shocking, sudden and pleasing to behold. Right before the tree is mentioned, Sor Asunción sits down with Patria to talk about her future. We know that Patria has been contemplating whether she should join the Church and become a nun. Their conversation is not final, because Patria is not sure of what she should do. She ends their meeting by saying to the Sor that she “hope[s] that [God] will make His will known to [her]” soon (46). When she is trying to concentrate on the prayer Sor Asunción is saying with her afterwards, her eyes gravitate towards the flame tree outside because she is conflicted. She had wanted to serve God, but now she feels the onset of adolescence throughout her body. Thus, as a metaphor for Patria at this time in her life, the flame tree appears in her field of vision right when she feels she ought to be turning her gaze inward.

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In the Time of the Butterflies

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