Probably the most notable difference between Dede and Minerva is in their personalities, especially as concerns their levels of assertiveness in making decisions. Minerva is adventurous and strong-minded, while Dede, nicknamed "Miss Sonrisa," or "Miss Smile," is gentle and compliant, the one who sacrifices herself to keep peace among those she loves.
From childhood, Minerva is outspoken and restless, in contrast to Dede, who tends to be more of a homebody. When Papa agrees to allow the older girls to attend a Catholic boarding school, Minerva, who is third in chronological age, jockeys to be included, and is allowed to go when Dede, who is second-oldest, good-naturedly consents to stay home to help her parents with the store. Minerva is the first to become involved with the Revolution, eventually influencing each of her sisters to join her in her dangerous work. Minerva throws herself wholeheartedly into the resistance, while Dede struggles with her decision to become involved for her entire life.
Dede's reluctance to assert herself affects her relationships with Minerva and others as well. When the sisters are befriended by Virgilio Morales, Dede is infatuated with him but does not declare herself. Virgilio, unaware of Dede's feelings for him, falls in love with Minerva instead, and when he is forced to go into hiding, invites her to join him. Dede intercepts the letter from Virgilio asking Minerva to accompany him, and out of frustration and jealousy, burns it. Minerva does not find out about Virgilio's invitation until it is too late, and Dede is overcome with guilt at her underhanded attempt to assert herself. Ever compliant to the wishes of others, Dede marries Jaimito, a young family friend with whom it has always been assumed she would wed. Jaimito is immature and controlling, and the marriage does not last.