In the Time of the Butterflies

What causes Patria to abandon her aspirations of becoming a nun? (Chapter Four)

What causes Patria to abandon her aspirations of becoming a nun? (Chapter Four)


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Patria acknowledges her attraction and desire to be with Pedrito. She knows that she cannot be a nun because she feels she's been called as a wife.

relates that she has always believed in God and suspected that she was to become a nun. At the age of 14 she went to school at Inmaculada Concepcion, and everyone suspected she would be going to the convent. When she is 15, Sor Asuncion has a talk with her and tells her to "listen deeply in case He is calling." But Patria is distracted by the coming storm she can see out the window.

For a while, Patria struggles against the sexual temptation she feels, trying to listen for God's call. On Holy Thursday, she volunteers to help Padre Ignacio by washing the feet of the parishioners, as is the tradition. One of the men whose feet she washes is Pedrito Gonzales, and she knows immediately that she wants to be with him, although they do not speak. He stands out to her because of his animalistic qualities, not just in the way that he appears, but also in that she feels a certain pity for him, a need to take care of him.

In May, Sor Asuncion asks her if she has heard her calling, and at last Patria confesses that she has heard it—but it is not that she should be a nun. Patria does not return to school; instead she helps Papa with the store. They plan the wedding for February 24, before her seventeenth birthday. She is tempted to make love to Pedrito before their wedding when he pours dirt into her hand and declares his simple love for her, but she resists.