Courage vs. Cowardice

Sonja Feaster, Rachel Kass, Erin Crumpler

Engagement Activity

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Dare #1

Sing your favorite song as loud as possible
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Dare #2

Speak for one minute about your crippling fear of bananas in a British accent
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Dare #3

Select two classmates to perform the Can-Can with
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Dare #4

Pound your chest and do your best Tarzan impression
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Throughout the novel, characters such as Minerva and Sinita display constant courage, while other characters are fluid and develop courage with time, such as Papá and Dedé. The only thing that differentiates between the two groups is how fear influences them.


    • Strength in the face of pain or grief

    • Can be shown internally or externally

    • Standing up for what is right

    • Facing suffering with dignity and acceptance


    • Lack of bravery

    • Driven by fear

    • Denies responsibility for the welfare of others or common good

    • Often times, the priority for cowards is themselves
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Sinita- Courage

"Our play's about a time when we were free. It's like a hidden protest." (Alvarez 26)


  • Trujillo destroyed Sinita's family by killing her father, brother, and uncles
  • She develops a hate for his policies that she shares with the other girls at Immaculada
  • When their group of four goes to display their skit for Trujillo himself, she points the bow right at him
  • This behavior has been supported by her family all of her life
  • Violence torwards Trujillo is the only thing she knows
  • However, Sinita's is not afraid of the repercussions of her actions because she is fighting for something she really believes in
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Dedé- Cowardice

"And she knew, right then and there, her knees shaking, her breath coming short, that she could not go through with this business. Jaimito was just an excuse. She was afraid, plain and simple, just as she had been afraid to face her powerful feelings for Lío. Instead, she had married Jaimito, although she knew she did not love him enough. And here she’d always berated him for his failures in business when the greater bankruptcy had been on her part." (Alvarez, 184)


  • Dede fears death, and struggles to overcome that fear for the sake of her sisters and her country, therefore displaying cowardice.

  • Dede also feared her feelings for Lío, and showed cowardice in her inability to face those feelings.

  • It seems as if she values her own life, and does not wish to die for a good cause.

  • It is human nature to want to survive, therefore cowardice is present in us all.
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Dedé- Courage

“Dede could not run away. Courage! It was the first time she had used that word herself and understood exactly what it mean” (Alvarez, pg 198)


  • The SIM had Minerva and Maria

  • Internal courage

  • Had to be strong for her family

  • The sisters consistently show courage throughout the novel and stand up to authority
  • She wanted to avoid all of her problems, but realized that she had to take care of her mom, her boys, and her sisters
  • She found courage by replaying happy memories and being hopeful for the future
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Papá- Cowardice

"I saw his shoulders droop. I heard him sigh. Right then and there it hit me harder than his slap: I was much stronger than Papá, Mamá was much stronger. He was the weakest one of all. It was he who would have the hardest time with the shabby choices he made. He needed our love." (Alvarez, 89)


  • While Papá shows cowardice, Minerva shows courage

  • Minerva realizes that she can do anything, and that she has the power and the courage to stand up to her father

  • Papá denies his responsibility to his family, and hides his second family out of fear of discovery

  • Papá's priority at this point in time is his own desires, and he does not think of the consequences of having an affair
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To Summarize

    • Some Characters are generally courageous throughout the entirety of the novel, such as Minerva, Sinita, and Mamá

    • Some characters begin as cowards, but later redeem their actions, such as Papá with his time in prison and Dedé with her painful regret and courage in the face of her sisters' deaths.

    • No human can be courageous all the time, and even cowards must have some degree of courage, but what truly distinguishes between the two is the presence of fear

    • A courageous person can overcome their fear

    • A cowardly person succumbs to their fear
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  • Is fear a characteristic of courage, cowardice, or both? Why?
  • What must occur for an action to be considered courageous?
  • What figures in history or current events would you consider courageous? Who would you consider cowardly?
  • How does cowardice or courage influence the story or define the characters in The Time of the Butterflies?
  • How much of a choice is it to be courageous or cowardly? How much of it is based on your upbringing?
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Thank You

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