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Talking About Religion in “In the Time of Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez

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The book “In the Time of the Butterflies” is written by Julia Alvarez. This text talks about how religion affects society. One main theme in the novel is to inform the reader how a dictatorship terrorizes the people of the Dominican Republic, but still shows religion is so important to the people of the country that the church can help fight the revolution.

Patria, one of the main characters of the novel, is the oldest sister. She is religious, and this helps her fight the revolution. Patria believes in God, she has her faith. After her son decides to fight the revolution, she goes to the church and prays. The SIM, which is the secret police of Trujillo’s government, is searching Maria Teresa and Minerva and those revolutionaries. She knows that there are priests around the church too. And they will report you to the SIM if you spoke against the regime. But she still hasn’t given up. And after the explosion in the church, which is made by the SIM, the church changes its position. It makes Petria realizes that it is not enough to just pray, she begins to fight. As long she has her beliefs, she open her heart and God will be there. Religion is extraordinary powerful tool for Patria to achieve her goals.

On the other hand, because of the dictatorship, the church is corrupt. Even priests know there are problems, such as Padre de Jesus. When Patria comes to the church and asks him for help, he faces Patria and says: “We must wait, we must pray, I, too, am lost so that I can not show you the way.” (Page 154) It is the first time that the church admits confusion. But if they do or say something against the regime, they can be caught, so they dare not get too critical. But can they live comfortably in this kind of society? Absolutely not. So Patria not only prays, but also begins to fight the revolution. After Padre de Jesus asks her if she knows of any one who would like to join their organization, she answers she knows of at least six, counting Pedrito and Nelson among her two sisters and their husbands. It shows she changes. (Page 164)As the religious and some priests of the churches stand up and fight against the regime, the situation changes. After the explosion, Petria walks into the room. “She finds that room is silent with the fury of avenging angels sharpening their radiance before they strike.”

Lord has changed, and says: “I come with the sword as well as the plow to set at liberty them that are bruised.” The people in ACC (Action Clero-Cultural) organize a powerful national underground; they spread the word of God among their brainwashed campesinos who had hunted down their own liberators. (Page 163 & Page 164) They realize that they should revolt. In the Dominican Republic, religion is a large part of the population; almost everybody goes to the church. When the church joins the revolution, it is much easier to overthrow the strong regime. Such as “The bishops had gathered together earlier in the week and drafted a pastoral letter to be read from every pulpit that Sunday. The church has at last thrown in its lot with the people!” (Page 207) In this situation, Trujillo’s regime is going to have trouble.

Therefore, religion is so important to the people of the Dominican Republic that the church can help fight the revolution. So, if the church is being terrorized, it is not enough to just sit and pray, the religious people should get together and fight for freedom. The same applies to us as students; we are young and strong, and we have lots of friends, so we should not just sit and wait for our homework, or we will be stifled by our studies. We should take the initiative to explore knowledge; try our best to get our great and promising goals!

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