Blog #2

What does the way women are depicted in contemporary fiction say about our culture and identity? Evaluate the purpose of presenting women in this way in your novel.

There is a large difference between the women in In the Time of the Butterflies and the women in our own society today.  The interesting part is that there is no definite or single depiction of women in the novel.  Each woman goes about her life in a different way, and throughout the novel these things change.  When you look at America you see something very similar.  Earlier in Americas history women were not as involved as they are today.  In America there was a large women’s rights movement.  Women fought to do more than stay at home and care for their husband.  They fought for the right to vote.  In the novel there isn’t a specific women’s rights movement, but a revolution.  But men alone aren’t operating this revolution; women are playing just as large a role.  So in this uprising we see a gain in women’s rights going along with it.

Blog #1

How are women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc.

In The Time of the Butterflies focuses around four main characters, the Mirabel sisters: Dede, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa. The book weaves narrations and diary entries by all of the sisters throughout the book, each of which depicts a very different image of women during the time period. One of the sisters, Dede, goes to a Christian school, and eventually marries her cousin, a future that had previously been wanted by her parents. During this time a rebellion is taking place towards the current government. Women are playing a large role in this, being just as active as many of the men. Two of the Mirabel sisters take part in the revolution, Minerva and Maria Teresa.  Minerva is especially different from the other sisters in the role she wants to play in society.  She works towards becoming a lawyer, and is deeply involved in the underground working against Trujillo and his regime.  Maria Teresa becomes interested in the underground in her time at high school.  This leads her to follow in Minerva’s footsteps and take part in working against Trujillo.  We see these two sisters standing out from other woman in their environment because the typical Dominican woman is seen as staying home and tending to her family.  Patria is unlike her two sisters in that she marries and has children almost as soon as she is done with high school.  She fits a more typical Dominican stereotype as she stays home and cares for her husband and children.  She does not work or take part in the underground for the time being.  Dede is more like Patria than her other sisters.  She too quickly marries and has children to care for.  The difference between the two is that Dede does not stay at home, she works.  She helped run her father’s store and helps her husband.  The novel uses the Mirabel sisters to portray women as beginning to rise from their stereotypical rolls.  They are working towards a new government while fighting the current one.

Second Post!

One of the questions being considered during this unit is: How are the women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc. 

As I read the second part of the book I noticed that the four women seem to change greatly. They all begin to take a bigger role in the underground movement against Trujillo while also getting married and starting their own families. They seem to become more modern (mainly by becoming politically involved) but also continue to care for their families. They seem to leave behind the old fashioned ways as they work with their husbands in their businesses (Dede and her family’s ice cream shop). THey also work in the underground movement against Trujillo’s regime by planing the revolt and storing weapons. They are bombarded with the old fashioned stereotypes that existed (mostly by men), but respond by showing that they are not at all examples of those stereotypes. They realize the double standard that most men have of women- that men are allowed to be sexually involved with other women while women are not (as the sisters discover with their father)- and show their disapproval. As they continue to go against Trujillo more the sisters begin to gain the people’s trust and respect. As the four sisters grow older, they continue to disprove the existing stereotypes and set an example to both the women and men of the Dominican Republic.

culture and identity

What does the way women are depicted in contemporary fiction say about our culture and identity? Evaluate the purpose of presenting women in this way in your novel.

The novel In the Time of the Butterflies provides a unique look at women in contemporary times because it takes place in the Dominican Republican in a time of severe oppression and backwards sexism. At a time in American culture when women were really beginning to lead competitive and equal lives with men, the women in the Dominican were still fighting to be admitted into Universities and colleges. Despite the active feminist movement in America that we are constantly taught in school, American females were extremely well off when their rights are compared to those in other countries, such as the Domincan Republic. Also, I think the fact that readers nowadays are able to read about the treatment of women in “Butterflies” and realize that it is sexist and extremely backwards in its sense of stereotypical female roles shows that American society has come a long way in its positive acceptance of feminism. However, despite the extreme differences in the culture in the Dominican Republic and America, there are still some similarities. For example, Alvarez’s novel takes place in the 1960s at a time where many American women are still fulfilling the stereotypical “housewife” role by living the American dream in Suburbia. Similarly, in “Butterflies” all of the main female characters at some point are shown to have dreams of being just an average housewife and caring for her children. This allows many readers to feel to connection with the characters even more because even though the four sisters are extremely courageous, they are still women who had some of the same desires American women have.

I think Alvarez makes a conscious effort to portray these women as having simple as well as ambitious goals in order to show that women can lead many different roles in life. For example, Minerva is the most revolutionary out of the four sisters and seems unwaveringly strong and ambitious in her dreams for political peace. However, we as readers learn throughout the novel that at many times she wishes she could retire into her home and be a simple wife and mother for her family. Also, take Patria, for example, who was the perfect “housewife” in the sense that she followed her husband and basically immersed herself in her family. However, she soon felt dissatisfied with not only her own life but also the quality of the lives of those around her. In order to fill this void, she joined her other two sisters in the fight against Trujillo. This simple mergence of a mere housewife into a revolutionary hero who died for her country shows that Alvarez truly supports women living multiple lives. Ultimately, the depiction of women in Butterflies shows that women were, long after the American feminist movement, striving for equality in society. However, even thought equality may be desirable, it has its price to pay in the sense that women may be forced to sacrifice some of their more desirable duties to fight for what they believe in.

One of the questions being considered during this unit is: How are women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc.

In this book, the author portrays the four women in four very different ways. The different ways that the women are portrayed help to create the stereotype of women in the Dominican Republic during the time of Trujillo’s reign and the stereotypes they were going against. Minerva is the most outspoken and liberal of the sisters. She represents the struggle against the sexist stereotype of the time of staying home, being uneducated, and being a housewife and mother. She attends a Catholic high school and makes it her priority to attend the University to become a lawyer. Her top priority is not to just become a housewife, although she would like it. She expresses these views to others (including Trujillo himself) and is not afraid to speak out against the regime, like many others- including men. She also is involved greatly in the underground group against the regime. She demonstrates the struggle that the women of the time go through to go against the typical, housewife-mother-uneducated stereotype. The rest of the three sisters also seem to go against the stereotype of women being uneducated, as all of them at least get their high school diploma. Dede and Patria are the more typical and traditional housewife who married after high school almost right away. They have children and begin to run a household very quickly. However, Dede helps run the various businesses that she and her husband, Jaimito, have. Patria, on the other hand seems to just stay at home and care for her and her husband’s, Pedrito, children. Maria-Teresa, the youngest of the four, attends the university and begins to be involved in the underground group against the regime. She also seems to dwell on who she will marry very much. Minerva seems to have a large influence on the relationships that Maria Teresa has and her political views. The author, Julia Alvarez, portrays these women in very different ways in order to further portray the women of this time in the Dominican Republic. These sisters grow up in a home that encourages education and encourages their dreams strongly. They live in a traditional environment, but yet they are revolutionary in their thoughts and ideas. Throughout the progression of the book they continue to develop these new and revolutionary ideas while still having one foot in the traditional world.

Women depiction

How are women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc.

In this particular novel, the women are portrayed in four very different ways based off the different characters. These different portrayals help demonstrate the sexual stereotypes that women were both experiencing and working to overcome. For example, Patria and Dede are examples of the more traditional type of housewife who go to a Christian school and almost immediately marry and have a family. Dede even married her cousin, whom her parents had been wanting her to marry every since she was a baby. However, at this time, there is also a huge sexism movement intertwined with the revolution as women are beginning to realize that they don’t have to remain at home in order to have a fulfilling life. Minerva, the most outspoken of the four sisters, demonstrates this type of progressive thinking women started having in being hesitant to engage in romantic relationships because she doesn’t want to risk her involvement in the revolution or the loss of respect from her peers since she sees marriage as a type of weakness.

Alvarez makes a definite attempt to show all four women as being very different in what they want out of life, their opposing views, and involvement in society. However, she is careful not to make any general assumptions about which sister is perhaps the most correct or courageous; she just portrays them as they are. Her indifference is important because it allows the reader to see each woman for who she really is and be able to sympathize with each character type as well, whether it be Dede and Patria or the more rebellious spirit of Minerva. Alvarez also shows the impact that each sister has on each other. For example, Minerva has a huge impact on the political views of Patria and Maria Teresa because they view her as inspiration and as someone for truly sees things as they are. Therefore, when Minerva becomes involved with the resistance, it is difficult for her sisters to remain innocent to the horrors of Trujillo’s regime because of their close relationship with her. Ultimately, Alvarez portrays the four main women as being extremely individualistic although still heavily influenced by society and each other.

Essential Questions

One of the questions being considered during this unit is: How are women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc.

The second question being considered during this unit is: What does the way women are depicted in contemporary fiction say about our culture and identity? Evaluate the purpose of presenting women in this way in your novel.