In the Time of the Butterflies

How does Patria's conflict of faith effect her character?

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As narrator, Patria uses similes and personification that connect her both to heaven and to earth. For a while she is torn between becoming a nun and becoming a woman focused on earthly matters. When Padre de Jesus tells her he cannot help her because he, too, is lost, she says, "I was shaking like when a breeze blows through the sacristy and the votive candles flicker." She is in the position of the prayerful candles, being shaken by nature. When she is overwhelmed by the beauty of Constanza, she personifies the land and nature as if it is tied to God: "Purple mountains reaching towards angelfeather clouds; a falcon soaring in a calm blue sky; God combing His sunshine fingers through green pastures straight out of the Psalms." Pedrito ties Patria to earth. She is attracted to him for his animal-like qualities, and when he proposes to her he pours dirt into her hand. This is also evident in the language she uses to express how she is not worried about him like she worries about her sisters: "Pedrito didn't worry me. I knew he would always have one hand in the soil and the other somewhere on me."

Patria's struggle to reconcile heaven and earth comes to a climax in Chapter 9 as she breaks down on Mama's front lawn. She tears up the grass from the ground around her, screaming. Dede gets down on her knees and puts the ground back in place, and "in a soothing voice, she reminded her sister of the faith that had always sustained her." Dede leads Patria in reciting the Credo, helping her find refuge in heaven when Pedrito, who connects her to earth, has been taken from her.