In the Time of the Butterflies

How does María Teresa’s perspective change once Minerva has explained the political situation to her?

chapter 3
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Maria Teresa's devotion to and admiration of Minerva are apparent in this chapter, as she notes. Minerva is the one who gave her the diary, encouraging her to reflect as a way to "deepen one's soul." After her First Communion, when Maria Teresa asks Minerva what it means to really have a soul, "Minerva says a soul is like a deep longing in you that you can never fill up, but you try." She also demonstrates her commitment to Minerva by lying for her, corroborating the story that Tio Mon is ill and that this is why Minerva has been sneaking out of school.

In lying for Minerva, Maria Teresa indirectly becomes involved in her older sister's revolutionary activities. It is the beginning of their downfall, and this is expressed in a simile of jumping into water together: "She took both my hands in hers as if we were getting ready to jump together into a deep spot in the lagoon of Ojo de Agua ... I pictured myself on a hot day falling, slowly and deeply, into those cold layers of water. I held on tight to my sister's hands, no longer afraid of anything but that she might let go." Maria Teresa gradually learns more and more about the revolutionary activities, including the reason for Hilda’s presence.

Maria Teresa's ideas about Trujillo change considerably during this chapter. On Benefactor's Day, she writes, "I feel so lucky that we have him as a president." But after Minerva tells her about the revolutionary meetings she is going to, Maria Teresa writes, "Everything looks just a little different ... Before, I always thought our president was like God, watching over everything I did." He might be always watching through his spies, but the constant judgments concern not human rights and human morality, as God’s judgments might. Trujillo is judging adherence to his authoritarian regime. The comparison of Trujillo to divinity is a theme that runs throughout the novel. He is compared to God from the perspective of an innocent child, but as she matures she learns that this is not the right way to look at the nation’s leader.