The saying ‘change comes from within’ applies to nearly everyone, however, Patria Mirabal’s change of faith occurs as a result of the events she witnessed. Patria, the most religious of the four Mirabal sisters, also is the sister who undergoes the largest transformation. At the start of the novel, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, Patria shifts from aspiring to become a nun, losing and regaining her faith, and ultimately to be a committed member of the 1J4 movement. Patria’s initial shift occurs when she marries and loses her son, but predominantly occurs when she witnesses a young boy get shot inside a church. This strengthens her faith, because now, more than ever, she truly understands what is the right course of action.
Ever since she was a young girl, Patria was entranced by nuns and she longed to be one of them. Padre Ignacio told the Mirabal family “…that maybe [Patria] had a calling to the religious life that was manifesting itself early on” (45), suggesting that maybe Patria was destined to become a nun. She showed all the traits of the ideal Catholic girl; she was generous, kind, warm, and obedient; she was such a good girl that “Mamá said she’d forget I was there” (44). This all changed, however, when Patria was sixteen, she instantly fell in love with Pedrito González while washing his feet on a pilgrimage. The two swiftly got married and had two children. However, a few months into Patria’s third pregnancy, she miscarries her child and loses all her remaining faith in God. As a result, Patria became apprehensive of God as she believed that “It is the Lord’s will…” (53) that her baby died due to her disobedience to the beliefs of the Church, especially when she joins the movement against Trujillo. As a consequence of maturing, Patria’s faith in God was shattered by her miscarriage.
After Patria lost her faith, she was on a pilgrimage to try to rekindle her faith in Jesus. At the beginning life was going well, but soon she witnessed El Jefe’s guards open fire inside a church and killed “a boy no older than Noris… I saw as the life drained out of him” (162). This event was a critical turning point in Patria’s development of faith as it finally opened Patria’s eyes to the corruption taking place in the government. Patria’s faith then took another turn when she began to talk with Padre de Jesus and learns that he has joined the movement through him yelling, “‘Amen to the revolution’” (164). This newfound knowledge of corruption and about the movement led Patria to doubt her concept of right and wrong. Her path away from holiness created a period of doubt in herself and everything she believed in. As a result, Patria decided to put her life as a nun on hold and eventually joined the 1J4 movement.
Another transition Patria makes is when she her faith for what is right, stopping Trujillo, becomes stronger than her faith in the Catholic church ever was. Before Patria realizes that she had to join the 1J4 movement with her sisters in order to make any impact, she first made sure to protect her family by allowing the movement to meet near her house, but she begged to the Padre Fabre saying “…please, do not let my son off the grounds except to come home… I do not want him getting mixed up with the wrong people” (158). This illustrates how she gave some of her faith to her sisters doing the right thing as she risks being caught by SIM and punished. This tells the reader that although Patria sees the wrong being done in her country, she will protect her family first before taking action. Shortly after, Patria finally understands where her faith should be when she allows for the meetings to be held in her home “‘Come on in, now. I mean it this time’” (165). Although this puts her family at risk, causing Pedrito “to worry…[and feel] most vulnerable” (165), she believes that there is only one way to end Trujillo’s regime: fighting it. By investing her faith into the movement, Patria sacrifices her life for the lives of millions out of faith that her country will improve.
Throughout the story, Patria is dynamic when it comes to the changes she undergoes until her death. In the beginning of the story, she comes off as religious and generous, and develops towards sisterhood at Inmaculada Concepcion. She then married and had a battle against her spirituality until her son joined the 1J4 movement. Only after her son joined was when she regained faith in her sisters and friends in the movement for the greater good. This rekindling of faith turned to be stronger than ever before because Patria was fully confident in herself and what she was doing, instead of doubting her commitment. All Patria needed was to follow the words of Julia Alvarez: “Don’t plan it all. Let life surprise you a little.”
Elevating Essay Writing: Delivering Excellence and Literary Distinction
Crafting Essays that Leave a Lasting Impression
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