Time of the Butterflies Essay

Daniel Greagan Professor Redkey 9/29/12 An Evaluation of Proactivity Julia Alvarez’s novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, portrays the lives of four sisters who grow up during General Trujillo’s dictatorship of the Dominican Republic. Once of age, the four sisters, Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and Dede each choose their own level of involvement in the rebellion against Trujillo. In Habit One of, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey writes, “[proactivity] means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.

Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. ” (71). Between the four sisters of In the Time of the Butterflies, Minerva Mirabal displayed the most self-awareness and made independent decisions, making her the most proactive sister as defined by Covey. Minerva is the third oldest sister in the Mirabal family. Of the four sisters, Minerva is the first to become involved in the revolution. Even at a young age Dede recalled Minerva “talking politics” with her family, sharing inner thoughts of her views on the government and how she thinks women need to be integrated in the political system.

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Covey emphasizes that “Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response. ” (72). His statement conveys the fact that a proactive person is aware of what is happening around them, and makes choices based on careful thought. Naturally Minerva tends to take special consideration of her surroundings. She understands the situations that she resides in, and makes active decisions and choices without letting her emotions dictate those decisions.

In many parts of In the Time of the Butterflies Minerva displays a higher degree of proactivity than the people around her. Julia Alvarez writes that Minerva and three other classmates performed a play for Trujillo during a celebration. During the celebration performance Sinita, one of Minerva’s classmates who despises Trujillo, aims a bow and arrow in his direction. Despite Minerva’s dislike of Trujillo, she starts a “Viva Trujillo! ” chant in order to save Sinita. This is a precise example of Minerva making a choice based on a constructed thought process rather than on instinctive emotion.

Although she strongly disliked Trujillo she realized that protecting Sinita is more important and reacted accordingly. Covey insists that “Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious, or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our responsibility to make things happen. ” (75). I agree with Covey’s statement, specifically when referring to Minerva’s behavior. Her actions are of a controlled nature; she doesn’t allow herself to act rashly even when emotions inflicted by close loved ones can be so strong. I believe that being proactive has a deep involvement with managing surrounding reactive people.

In the Time of the Butterflies has many characters that are reactive in nature. Papa Mirabal and Patria are primarily both very reactive people. Patria’s loss of her first child devastates her for an extended period of time while Minerva helps her to regain her happiness. Papa becomes outraged at Minerva for going through his jacket and finding mail that he was hiding from her. When he lashes out at her it would have been very easy for her to be emotionally distraught and lash back. Instead she takes a firm stance and tells him exactly how she feels.

Although there is a slight connotation of anger attached to her statements, in no way was this reactive in behavior. She doesn’t attack Papa or do anything irrational; she steps back from the situation and makes rational decisions. She had mentally prepared for the exact situation and retained her proactivity. Some might say that Dede was the most proactive of the four sisters, stating that she was the only one that was in control, not allowing herself to become too entangled with the revolution and saving her own life. I strongly disagree; in fact Dede might have been the least proactive and self-aware out of the sisters.

She allowed her husband, Jaimito, make many of her decisions for her and discourage her from rebellious activity. She allowed him to dictate her thoughts and choices, supporting reactive behavior. A vivid display of Minerva’s proactivity occurs when she is imprisoned for rebel activities. Maria Teresa recorded daily journals of Minerva and her life in prison. Maria Teresa’s journal entries speak of her growing depression and increased hopelessness as the days passed. Covey uses an example of a work environment to show that if even just one employee is of proactive nature, it is beneficial to the stablishment and positively influences the naturally reactive coworkers. Despite the awful living conditions and recently being diagnosed with tuberculosis, Minerva remains proactive. Maria Teresa wrote of many accounts where Minerva works with her and the other imprisoned revolutionaries with their personal and mental condition. She encouraged them to remain hopeful and although risky, held open meetings to keep up with the ongoing rebellion outside the prison walls. Throughout their time spent captured and imprisoned. Minerva continually remained more proactive than anyone else.

As proactivity is defined by Covey, Minerva is definitely the most proactive out of the Mirabal sisters. Minerva refused to let her surrounding conditions dictate her choices and took responsibility for her life. She remained self-aware throughout difficult situations and actively chose to not let those situations corrupt her thoughts and mindset. In fact, I consider Minerva to be the perfect icon of proactivity. Works Cited Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free, 2004. Print. Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 2010. Print.