Time Of The Butterflies Essay, Research Paper
In the Time of The Butterflies: Who is the True Heroine Among the Four?
For many years, the definition of a hero has been vague and unclear. People with different perspectives worshiped their own heroes. From a businessman’s eyes, a hero may be someone who can come with brilliant idea, in contrast, patriots may praise the ones who are willing to sacrifice for the nation. However, from the contradiction of thousands of unique thoughts, a common ground can be drawn between them. That is, a hero is not being what he can be nor being more than what he can be, but to be what she never thought he could possibly be. Not long since, a teacher, an image that is traditionally thought to be soft, who does not employ to protect the students’ lives with his, was shot because he was trying to save the students from the bloody claw of the shooters, he was admired greatly. In the same situation, if replaced the teacher with a police officer, he will also be admired, but not as greatly as the teacher. This is because he was trained that way, he has the responsibility, he has prepared to sacrifice therefore, the courage he has paid is far less compare to a teacher who was trained to teach. The similar situation has happened in the novel In the Time of the Butterflies. All four but one Mirbal Sisters have prepared to sacrifice. But there is one, the only exception, the only unsung heroine among the four, the one who was trained to be the traditional housekeeper, the one who lived unwillingly after all three sisters are gone, and her name is Dede.
There is one common Chinese saying: one’s lifetime character is determined by the age of three, after that, it is much easier to move the mountain than to change it. In simple words, it is nearly impossible to change the personality of someone no matter what kind of effort has been paid. In the novel, Minerva is born with intelligence and stubbornness, Maria has a curious and dependable personality, and Patria represents the generosity and calmness. Throughout the story, their characters have not changed dramatically, and because of those characteristics they are expected to be heroines, to be the ones that stand up and speak loud. However, only Dede, a role model of a traditional woman, supposing doll for the man has changed. Even her father comments her “She’ll bury us all in silk and pearls, yes, for sure, our Dede here is going to be the millionaire of the family.” Nevertheless, changes do not come byitself, but come through numerous struggles between the family value and the revolution. For most of the time, she has valued family as a more important factor in her life. Should she be blamed for her so-called woman’s selfishness and weakness? No, a good wife should be responsible for both her husband and children. Since the revolutionists are treated cruelly once they are caught, she may even bring the whole family into terrible tragedies. That is just too much of a risk for her at that point of her life, she wants to join the revolution but simply she can’t. The opinion on what she has done varies according to different point of view. From a radical perspective, she is surely a loser, but from a traditional perspective, what she has done, being honest with husband, and taking care of the children is absolutely honorable. Although, she changed from a “waiter” to an “actor”, what she has done so far is enough to make her a heroine in a traditional way.
No doubt that Minerval has put tremendous effort on her accomplishment. However, compare to Dede’s effort, that has become insignificant. Dede has thick mental obstacles to overcome while Minerva almost has none. Needless to say, Dede deserves the admires more because she pays more effort. If there is a student who used to earn good grades and he gets A in the test. While there is another student who used to fail every test he has taken and also gets an A. Who should deserve more praising from the others, the A student or the F student? Most of the people will say the F student is more honorable because he has paid triple efforts and time to overcome the difficulties and accomplish the same goal as the A student accomplishes. The similar situation happens in the novel. Dede, unlike the other three sisters, with a little rebellious mind in her has been expected to be a good wife by the other people. She has to walk a much longer journey before she reaches the level of the other three sisters, the level where she will stand up for herself against Trujillo.
Although the changes in her are gradual and nonviolent, from obeying every word her husband says to divorce with her husband, she has to defeat many moral standards within herself. Her courageous action has influenced much greater than what she and everybody else thinks, especially in such a traditional country where woman obeys man has become the rule. Dare the other sisters take the same action if they are Dede? In the last chapter of Minerva, when they are checked by the soldiers, Dede is the one that steps up as a wing-opened butterfly. She tries to protect her sister who always teases her old-fashioned mind all the time, and proclaims “My name is Minerva.” Although she murmurs it out with a soft tone and a little bit of scare, but the courage and effort for a passive little girl to become a heroine with little fear is much more respectful than someone who accomplishes the same but already born with courage.
Thirty- four years of sleepless nights, a hundred and thirty-six seasons of loneliness can break anyone but not Dede. With all that have happened, Dede has survived, but lived as a corpse. Interminable sadness has consumed Dede spiritually, bearing the loss of her sisters, she can barely breath with the massive bars on her shoulders, yet she survives. Raising the children and preserving the truth have become more important that her own life. Although she should be the one who wants to keep the secret remains secret, because the others will mostly likely to misunderstand her action as chicken-like, she admits what she has done, and passes the truth to the descendants. “She is setting up her life, as it was an exhibit labeled neatly for those who can read: The sister who survived.” And “Everyone wants to buy a policy from the woman who just missed being killed along with the other three sisters.” Have become two of the countless ironical embarrassments in her life, but for the sake of passing on the truth, she has faced them bravely. How many times she has heard the yap behind her back about this and about that, how many times she has been screaming within “You have misunderstood me.” when there is no one around? Even Minou, her kinship has asked her “I have always wondered, I mean, you all were so close, why you did not go along with them?”, what can she say, defend herself, but will the people in the circumstance where they determine the remainder is always “mortally afraid of death” . Will they believe that she has sell all her sisters for a happy life or she has lived painfully and willingly only to pass the message? She has picked the wrong path apparently, if she dies with the other Mirabal sisters, she does not have to raise the kids with painstaking efforts. Instead of teasing by the people, she will become the idol for them to admire, if the truth is lucky enough not be executed by the corrupted government. However, even though time can go back and she will have another chance to pick over, she will choose the same path she has chosen before, the path that will scare anyone else away but also the most heroic and the most meaningful path. She does not do it with the desire of being admired by the others, in contrast, this path that will not bring her reputation nor praises but teasing.
Dede seems paltry when compares with the other sisters, but she is much bigger than what she seems. As a farmer is cultivating with a plow and the cow, Minerva’s fearlessness is the cow that always marches forward courageously, Patria’s calmness will be the farmer behind the cow and hands on the plow that is controlling the whole situation. Maria is the plow because she is dependent, and always follows the man’s and the cow’s marching and Dede will be the unattractive rope between the cow and the plow. Although the rope seems totally ineffective in the system, but without it linking them together, the whole system will crash. Dede’s outside is certainly incomparable with the outstanding accomplishments of the other Mirabal sisters, but from deep inside, her peaceful rebellion is not inferior to the other sisters’. Instead of being the radical Fidel Castro, who carries out bloody and violent revolutions, she will rather be the peaceful corruption terminator Gandhi. Her soft heart can never make her a radical that changes the world in a bloody way. In the book, she has shown Minerva the book the Gandhi which is ignored by Minerva. Instead of sacrificing thousands of people during the process, she picks the longer but more deep path, that changes the government like Gandhi did.
Dede’s unsungness does not means she is not taking any action, she is just not willing to pay any meaningless sacrifice. There is only one flaw, but the major flaw of the Mirabal sisters except Dede. When they are returning home from visiting their husband, they have acted stupidly and irresponsibly. Minerva first receives the note from the shopkeeper that tells her that there is a trap sets up by the SIM in the profound mountain. Then she has noticed the young solider acts hesitantly and strangely, which she finally realizes he is a plant. She can avoid the trap by staying in the town overnight, but does not. She falls into the trap stubbornly, Maria and Patria follow her lead foolishly as usual. That decision determines their death in the nameless road. Should they be admired? Sure, the country revolutionists’ spirit must be raised crazily by their braveness against evil and death. However, are they really admirable? Have they accomplished their goal yet? Who will then lead the revolution? And could they face the people who are dying for the revolution in the heaven and tell them “Sorry, because of our sudden urge, your death have been in vain.” They not only disappoint the people who expect them to change the nation, but even worse, they have died for nothing. Their death has not hurt any tiny nerve of the goat. How about the children they left behind? They have been relieved by death, because they have left all the duties to the others, and compare to Dede’s responsibility, they are too ashamed to say to be heroines.
Just as one of the revolutionist says in the secret radio channel “Condemn me, it does not matter, the history will absolve me.” Dede, yes, one day in the future, you will be absolved. By the time, the pain you have endured will become the respect from the others, and your name will be lined up with your other sisters, or even reaches a higher level. But before that, you still have to be patient, and let the history to prove your innocence.
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