When does Patria get back on her sturdy foundation in chapter 8 of In the Time of Butterflies?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Through Minerva, Alvarez writes, "Something has started which none of us can stop."  This "something" is what enables Patria to move to her study foundation.  From an almost existential questioning of her identity on religious grounds, Patria is forced to confront in the most direct terms the element of political cruelty and personal suffering that moves her back to a study foundation. This is what enables her to recognize what she must do and the path she must follow.

At the point in the narrative when Patria is questioning things, her focus is more spiritual.  It is reflective of a devotee's wondering if they have "done the right thing" or if "God will be happy with them."  Her questioning is rooted in her own personal suffering and pain through miscarriage.  However, when Patria sees the innocent children being killed by Trujillo's forces, it is a moment that starts to move her towards a study foundation as to what needs to be done. In seeing a young boy die, Patria moves from uncertainty to steadfast knowledge in what she must do.  She understands that her own son, Nelson, is becoming interested in politics.  Patria recognizes that she has an obligation to make the world a better place for him, so that he does not suffer the same fate as the boy shot down experienced. Her prayers upon seeing the death of the little boy show her pivot towards a sturdy foundation of action:  "I'm not going to sit back and watch my babies die, Lord, even if that is what You in your great wisdom decide."  The face of the boy, the eyes she sees, remind her of "her own."  It is at this moment she recognizes that as a follower of the divine example, she must stand up against that which is evil.  Trujillo and the work of the Guardia are actions that represent evil.  Thus, she cannot avoid realizing what she must do.  

Patria struggles to find the path that must be followed.  She turns to God for the answers.  When she attends a meeting of the Christian Cultural Group and hears about the atrocities that Trujillo has perpetrated, the path becomes clear to her.  Her revolutionary fervor is convergent with her spiritual belief.  It is in this pivot where she gains her study foundation and asserts her autonomy through political action through religious conviction.  Her husband objects. Yet, Patria is shown to be forceful in her resolution.  In standing up to her husband and convincing him of the path that has to be followed, one sees her moving from uncertainty to a sturdy foundation of action.

The actions that Patria has undertaken up to this point were tepid supporting measures of the revolutionary cause.  Providing child care to Mate's baby or keeping Minerva's and Manolo's baby are examples of a secondary form of support.  Yet, in seeing innocent children killed and recognizing the clarion call to action that her spiritual identity demands out of her, Patria moves to a more study foundation that preaches the need to take political action.  In allowing her home to be the base of  Fourteenth of June Movement, it becomes clear that Patria has found her voice.  It is one that combines revolutionary change with spiritual embrace.  It is the "something" that enables her to envision what can be from what is.  

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In the Time of the Butterflies

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