Some believe that the reason for courage is the thing that’s loved yet feared the most. Julia Alverez demonstrates the essence of courage throughout In the Time of Butterflies. Courage defined as someone overcoming something that they fear. Most of the time, fear is something loved and must be given up in the name of courage. In the Time of Butterflies, describes the story of the Four Mirabal sisters and they’re struggles with courage. Each sister had a specific reason for why they chose to partake in the religion and Patria’s was family and faith. Patria, the oldest sister, struggles between the importance of family and religion in the revolution. She was a mature woman who always knew how to conquer her struggles and be there for her family. Patria defeated her emotional fears and became the mother of the Mirabal movement that involved her family, watched them go to jail, and still stood strong in her faith.
In the end, the revolution was a challenge to her faith but Patria stood her ground. Before the Church was even involved with the revolution, she considered being a part of it, but not because of the things happened in her country but because of her sisters. She feared for them and wanted to be with them but she wasn’t sure if it was what God wanted her to do. “’I feel lost,’ I said to the father. ‘I don’t know what the Lord requires of us in these hard times.’” (Alverez 154) In 1959, Patria began to realize how bad things had become in her country and she decided to join her sisters. This was an important move in Patria’s life because she had never gone against her faith before. Even though she chose this path, she knew she had to have God on her side otherwise she wouldn’t be able to make it. When she questioned her faith on page 201, she really lost it. “’I’ve been good!’ I started shouting at the sky, undoing the ‘recovery.’” (Alverez 201) Patria later discovered that she needed God and this revolution would’ve tried to knock her down, but she stood strong in her faith.
Patria was the mother to everyone and she struggled emotionally, with letting them risk their lives. Family was a strong part of Patria’s foundation and emotional sanity. The main reason Patrai became a part of the revolution was because of the young boy she saw on her retreat. Thirteen years prior, Patria had a miscarriage and lost her baby. When she saw the young boy who was gunned down was the same age as her still-born baby would’ve been, she knew what she had to do. “I’m not going to sit back and watch my babies die, Lord, if that’s what You and Your great wisdom decide.” (Alverez 162) This was very courageous of Patria because she was eight months pregnant with a baby boy and yet she was still willing to risk his life, her life, and the rest of her family’s life to make a change. This showed progress in Patria because a month prior, she didn’t even want her oldest son to leave the house and move to the capital. That day on the retreat, something changed in Patria. She was no longer just a soon-to-be mother of three; she was the mother of the revolution.
The ultimate emotional test for Patria was when her sisters, husband, and oldest son were thrown into prison. Patria was a mess for weeks. She stayed strong for all of the children, but when no one was looking she’d break down. All Patria could do was pray, that was all she knew how to do. One day she went as far as setting up an altar at the foot of the required picture of Jefe in her home and prayed to it. “I beg of you, oh Jefe give me back my son. Take me instead; I’ll be your sacrificial lamb.” (Alverez 203) Patria being willing to sacrifice herself for her son, sisters, and husband highlights the idea of her role as the mother of the revolution the Mirabals had begun. Even at the breaking point, Patria never backed down; she was a part of this revolution with her sisters. She offered up her house, which was burned down, allowed her son and husband to join, who were both beaten in jail, and risked her own life many times, when she smuggled things to her sisters in jail and fought with the captain in the régime who had come to watch her. This Patria’s critical test and she courageously overcame it. To win that war, she had to give everything she emotionally had, a combination of familial, religious, and personal sacrifice.
Patria overcame her emotional fears of losing family and faith and rose victoriously on the other side as a martyr for her cause. Her greatest fears came to life when she lost her house, husband, son and sister to jail and the SIM, but she stood strong because of the promises she made herself. Like Minou said, “Much remains to be done but we have also achieved a great deal.” (Mirabal 17) Patria and her sisters knew when they were going to be killed but they did not do much to stop it. Patrai knew that she had done all she could by the time she died. She knew the revolution and everything that occurred in it was God’s will and she never gave up on her family. After her death, no more of her children would die because of Trujillo and his regime. Patria did everything did because of her foundation, family and faith. Now the question to ask would be, is courage stronger when it comes from love or when it comes from fear?