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María Teresa Mirabal is the youngest of three sisters. She lives in the Dominic Republic in the time of Trujillo's dictatorship. In her early life she studies in the school Inmaculada Concepción just as her sisters had. She gets a diary as a present and writes her feelings when she is young, and then when she is in the university she decides to participate in the revolution with her sisters, and she writes in her diary about broader more mature topics. The use of her diary changes during the story.
Minerva Mirabal gives a diary to Mate as a present when she participates in the sacrament of first communion. Minerva also tells her that the diary will be useful in her life; "Minerva says keeping a diary is also a way to reflect and reflection deepens one's soul"  . Nevertheless, she is 10 years old. What kinds of reflections could a girl write in her early life?
When she starts writing, she does not show us any reflection. Mate just writes about clothes and shoes; "I'll get to wear my first Communion dress and shoes all over again"  "I talked Mamá into letting me buy another pair of shoes."  . She also writes about her family, school, vacations, parties, and so on. She demonstrates that she is just a girl having fun. Meanwhile, there are several problems in the country about the government; she has not idea about what is going on, because of her innocence.
Because of this innocence, María Teresa thinks and writes that Rafael Leónidas Trujillo's government is excellent; "â€¦ I am taking these few minutes to wish El Jefe Happy Benefactor's day with all my heart. I feel so lucky that we have him for a president"  . At this time this is a simple diary written by a normal girl who just writes about her activities and makes an insignificant confession (she does not like to be in the Inmaculada Concepción). As we know, diaries are personal and intimate objects in which people write to express their experiences, feelings, and so on, Mate knows this, but we can see that she has awareness that she has readers. But her use of it changes.
When she is young the diary is to show how she feels, but then when she is older, this journal will become important, and her innocence will fade away. The diary becomes something else, namely, a document to record history.
She realizes that it could be dangerous to have readers after her sister reads it "â€¦ She says she hadn't meant to read my diary, but it was lying around, and she notices Hilda's name"  Mate writes about a girl named Hilda who participates in the revolution against Trujillo. She also writes about the secret meetings at Don Horacio's house where Minerva, Elsa, Lourdes and Sinita participate. Consequently, María Teresa buries her diary, because she realizes the consequences if somebody from the government read it. This diary will not be an ordinary journal, and Mate will change her mind about its use
Why does María Teresa continue writing if she knows that it is dangerous? There are three reasons: The first reason is that she has a new diary that Minerva brings her to help her to get through her father's dead. "â€¦ I swore I'd never keep a diary again after I had to bury mi little book"  Although she does not want to have another diary, because it is risky to write about the revolution, especially since Minerva is involved in the movement, Mate is afraid that she and her sister could be killed by the government. But, Minerva gives her another one that is why Mate continues writing in it.
The second reason Mate continues to write is that her diary becomes a companion "I have been a disaster diary keeper. Last year, only one entry, and this year is already half over and I haven't jotted a single word. I did thumb trough my old diary book, and I must say it does all seem very silly with al diaries dearsâ€¦ But I think I will need a companion... Minerva graduates tomorrow"  She demonstrates that she is accustomed with her sister, and her fear is the solitude.
The third reason Maria Teresa decides to use the diary as a weapon to fight against the government, because she decides to participate in the revolution, but later the police catches them. Mate continues writing in the jail how inhuman the politics prisoners are treating. "I just got the notebookâ€¦ The fear is the worst part. Every time I hear footsteps coming down the hallâ€¦ It feels good to write things down. Like there will be a recordâ€¦  ".
The use of the diary of the protagonist in "The Color Purple" is both similar and different of María Teresa's diary in the novel "In The Time Of The Butterflies"
Celie is a homodiegetic narrator. She is a black woman who suffers terribly in her life. She has a horrible life, because she lives with her father who rapes her several times she has two children by him, but he steals her them. Although she has a complicated life, she does her best to do new things that make her feel better; for example she learned to read and write, so she has a diary to express her feelings.
Even though there is not much difference between Celie and María Teresa's age. Faraway to be more mature Celie is just 14 years old when she has her first baby. She does not have rights, and men are superior. But, she has faith, and she demonstrates this at the beginning of her diary.
"You better not never tell nobody but god. I'd kill your mammy"  We learn that God is the addressee of her diary. When we start to read the diary, we immediately realize that she has lost her innocence, she has not a normal life like Mate has. Celie has already known about sex and hard work. But why does Celie decides to have a diary?
The principal reason for her have a diary is because she does not have anybody to talk to about her feelings like Mate she needs a companion. Celie's companion is God. And like María Teresa, the diary is used to let off steam and to keep faith. Mate's faith is revolution, Celie's is in God.
Mate receives her diary as a present, but then she does not want it. In contrast Celie decides to have a diary, because the consequences of her life, she really needs it to keep her faith. At the beginning Mate just has the diary for fun. But Celie makes reflections about her life. She is an experienced girl, the difference is that in María Teresa's diary she writes about school, friends, parties, vacations, and so on, while Celie writes about how her husband uses her as a object.
Celie is afraid of Mr._____, because he does not like that Celie could read or write. Nettie tries to teach Celie to read and write. Therefore, the diary will help Celie to be in touch with her sister, because in her diary she practices writing, and she keeps her faith that she will meet her sister again.
Mr._____, hides Nettie's letters from Africa, but when Celie finds them, she abandons her diary and she does not write to god. "Dear Nettie, when I told Shug I'm writing to you instead of to god, she laugh. Nettie doesn't know these people, she say. Considering who I ben writing too, this strike me funny"  A change happens in Mate's diary too.
When María Teresa writes in her diary about how her sister participates in the revolution, she realizes that the diary is something dangerous. So, she has to hide her diary too. She is afraid of the government. However, Celie is afraid of her husband. As soon as Mate is in prison because her participation against Trujillo, she and Minerva realize that the diary is really important for the revolution as a document to demonstrate the hideous crimes of the dictatorship.
Finally, Mate reflects like Celies does it but in her early life. The diary helps Celie to leave her husband. Although Mate is assassinated by the government her diary contributes to make free a nation.
In both cases the diary is a weapon. It is used to fight against masculine authority. On the one hand, María Teresa Mirabal, at the beginning of the story, never thinks about how important the diary would be to fight against a malicious government. Firstly, she is afraid of the danger the diary represents. When she gets involved in the revolution, she becomes in a brave woman, and her diary becomes a lethal weapon.
In jail she is conscious that her diary could make the change; "The Organization Of American States Peace Commited comes this Friday. Only one prisoner from each pavilion will be interviewedâ€¦They picked me. â€¦It's not the same please, Mate. You don't even have to write it up, she adds. We can just tear out the pages in your journal and put them in with our statement"  .
On the other hand Mr._____ prohibits Celie to read or write, she is afraid of this because her husband is a violent man. Celie knows that her diary is part of her life, because it helps her to improve in two ways.
In the first place; she is a submissive girl. So, the diary helps her to control her feelings, and she does not do things to commit revenge against her husband, it also helps her to make rebellion and to leave Mr._____ and be free to meet Nettie again, and know her children. The diary represents her having still some control in some part of her life.
In the second place; she demonstrates that she forgives her father: "Dear, Nettie for the first time in my life I wanted to see Pa."  This forgiveness further shows that there she has control over her feelings.
In conclusion, the diaries of these women are significant as places of self expression and as weapons. When they know the importance of their diaries they risk their lives to continue writing, because the diaries will help contribute to reaching their dreams. There are differences in their situations, because the place, people, racism, government, time, oppression. But finally María Teresa finishes writing until she died. Celie's last entry is "to God to thank him, the stars, the trees, the people together again again with Nettie and to know her children"