In the Time of the Butterflies

Flame Tree Metaphor in In the time of the Butterflies

The flame tree metaphor is mentioned once when Patria is about to hitting puberty. "I was not yet sixteen that February when Sor Asuncion (a sister/nun at their Catholic boarding school" summoned me to her office. The flamboyants, I remember, were in full bloom. Entering that sombre study, I could see just outside the window the brilliant red flames lit in every tree and beyond, some threatening thunderclouds". It is also mentioned by Patria again later in the book after her son was taken by the military intelligence service of the Dominican Republic (where the story takes place). "And then more than personally, I reminded him (Pena, an officer that she knew personally) of the pardon I'd asked for. But nothing came through for us. I started having bad days again and long nights. Only the thought of Easter just around the corner kept Patria Mercedes inching along. The blossoms on the flame trees were about to burst open". Lastly, it was mentioned by Dede, another sister after Trujillo was assassinated and the DR starting having free elections. She is in Canada and she meets this guy who she might have a crush on. After he takes her hand and comparing it to a Canadian leaf and making her blush, it says "But I was too scared yet to walk into my life that bold way, When he finished his demonstration, I took my hand back. But already in my memory, it has happened and I am standing under those blazing trees-- flamboyants in full bloom in my imagination, not having seen those sugar maples he spoke of".

So can someone please explain the significance of the flame tree throughout the novel?

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