“And I heard her answer me with the coughs and cries and whispers of the crowd: Here, Patria Mercedes, I’m here, all around you. I’ve already more than appeared.”

In Part I, chapter four, the Mirabal women make pilgrimage to the town of Higüey, where there is a famous image of the Virgin Mary. Seeing the painting, Patria challenges Mary, asking where she is, and hears her answer in the sound of the crowd, an example of a message from the spirit world influencing the material world of the characters. At this point in the book, Patria has lost her faith and is angry and embittered after the stillbirth of her third child. Up until this point, Patria’s life has revolved around her innate sense of connection to God and the care of her immediate family. The message from Mary leads her to turn her faith outwards, finding spiritual fulfillment in a connection to the greater world and seeking to help others beyond her household. This moment of connection with the spiritual marks a major turning point in Patria’s life, putting her on the path to becoming Mariposa #3.

I don’t know if that’s how it started, but pretty soon, I was praying to him, not because he was worthy or anything like that. I wanted something from him, and prayer was the only way I knew to ask.

In Part III, chapter 10, Patria sets up a kind of altar by the household’s required portrait of Trujillo, where she offers daily flowers and prayers, hoping she can influence him via the spirit world to release her family from prison. Although Patria is a devout Catholic, she does not see her altar as a contradiction of her faith. In fact, she begins praying to the portrait in part because she is used to seeing his picture next to one of Jesus, one of several times the novel suggests an association between the two. Although Mamá thinks the flowers are only intended to please any Trujillo loyalists who come to the house, Fela, the character in the book most at home with the idea of communicating with the spirit world, understands that Patria is sincere in her attempt to appeal to his spirit. Patria’s belief that her prayers and offerings to the picture may inspire the real Trujillo towards better behavior demonstrates a belief that the spirit world is connected to the material world.

“Tell me what the girls had to say today?” 
“That’s just it,” Minou says, her voice still uneven. “They wouldn’t come. Fela says they must finally be at rest.”

In 1994, Minou brings Dedé word that Fela has not been able to communicate with the spirits of the Mariposas that day. This conversation takes place in Part III, chapter nine, after Dedé’s Interviewer has left. While Dedé disdains Fela’s side business offering visitors the chance to communicate with the spirits of her sisters, she also believes in their presence, as she demonstrates in this scene by telling Minou that they were not with Fela because they were at the house all day. By placing the spirit of the Mariposas at the house on the day the Interviewer visits, Alvarez implies that they are especially attentive to the work of the Interviewer and, by extension, to her own project of bringing them to life in the novel. Minou wonders if they are at rest—and indeed, by the end of the novel, they seem to be—suggesting that by telling their stories to the Interviewer, Dedé has released them.