The story “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez follows the story of four sisters, three of whom are killed by the ruling of the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo. The story, as told by the surviving sister Dede Mirabal, starts out as an interviewee telling the story of her sisters and their individual tales to how they revolutionized together to overthrow the man that was running their home to the ground. The three sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, join with others and codename themselves the “butterflies” to help stop Trujillo but end up dying for their causes at the end.

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The oldest sister Patria is the most religious out of all the sisters and se wanted to be a nun when she grew up. Instead, she ended up marrying her husband Pedrito when she was 16 years old. She tried to have children over and over again, eventually succeeding, and only decided to join the revolution when she saw a boy being murdered. She did not want her own children to die the way that the boy did so she decided that she would be apart of the revolutionary so that she wouldn’t have to “sit back and watch her babies die”. She doubted joining the revolution at first but when she did she brought together her faith and what she thought was her destiny in helping her sisters. Patria was the “mother” of all the sisters and treated everyone as a mother would treat their child, with love and care assuring them that everything they were doing was for a purpose and that everything would be okay.

The next sister in age of the three is Minerva. Of all the sisters, Minerva is first to join the revolution. Minerva first found out about Trujillo through her friend Sinita who tells her that he had killed the men in her family, which made Minerva start to see Trujillo in a different light. Being the boldest and probably the smartest of the three sisters, Minerva joins the revolution with her husband Monolo. Minerva was asked of Trujillo to be one of his girlfriends but she denied him. Minerva was focused on her education and wanted to practice law. After making a bet with Trujillo, she got the chance to go to school and finish but she couldn’t receive her degree because Trujillo wouldn’t let her. Minerva said that her father told her of all his girls she was meant to be the boy which showed how strong she was and how beneficial she had been to the revolution.

Maria Teresa, the baby of all the sisters, joined the revolution after she went to go live with Minerva. She learned about what Minerva was doing and the cause behind it so she joined and met and fell in love with Leandro. Both Maria Teresa and Minerva, along with Patria’s husband Pedrito and others, are arrested for being apart of the revolution. Maria Teresa is once whipped in front of her husband where they tried to convince him to do a job for Trujillo in which he agreed. Maria Teresa is seemed to be the most naïve of all the sisters and also, because she is the baby, she’s looked at as the softest. She writes all of her parts in the books in journal entries and her love for her family and husband fuel her desire to be apart of the revolution. In the end, Trujillo’s men ambushed the three sisters after a visit to the prison. They are beaten and choked to death and then the men staged their death to make it seem like they had driven off of a cliff.

  • Broome D. Writing the Female Body in Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. Coastal Review [serial online]. June 2011;3(40973):1-14. Available from: Humanities International Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 11, 2014.
  • Rodríguez M. POLITICAL AUTHORITY FIGURES AS DISTANT MEMORIES OF A FORGOTTEN PAST: JULIA ALVAREZ’S IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES AND IN THE NAME OF SALOMÉ AND CRISTINA GARCÀA’S THE AGÜERO SISTERS. Journal Of Caribbean Literatures [serial online]. Fall2009 2009;6(2):55-63. Available from: Humanities International Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 11, 2014.