In the Time of the Butterflies

3. Why is it significant that even as she is praying, Patria could not keep her eyes “from straying to the flame trees”? What do the trees and their blossoms represent?

chapter 4
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In Chapter Four, Sor Asuncion summons Patria to talk about listening for her calling from God, the storm that Patria notices brewing outside is a metaphor for the complex emotional situation that calls her not to living with the purity of a nun but to fulfill a more earthly calling: "Entering that sombre study, I could see just outside the window the brilliant red flames lit in every tree, and beyond, some threatening thunderclouds." When Sor Asuncion tells her to pray to the Virgencita for guidance, she "saw the first zigzag of lightning, and heard, far off, the rumble of thunder." These are hints that she is not meant to become a nun. As Patria prays with Sor Asuncion, she remembers, "I tried hard but I could not keep my eyes from straying to the flame trees, their blossoms tumbling in the wind of the coming storm." In a sense she is of the “flesh” rather than of the “spirit.”