In The Time Of The Butterflies

In The Time Of The Butterflies

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1. It was difficult to find out who was the narrator of In The Time Of The Butterflies was, seeing as how the book kept switching from the viewpoints of each of the Mirabal sisters. Although the Mirabal sisters spoke firsthand of what happened, it seemed as if we were being told how they felt, but not from the directly from the sister. Finally, I thought back to the very beginning of the story and realized that the narrator of the book was the reporter who went to Dede's house, which happens annually on November 25th. Through Dede, the reporter was an outsider who could tell the readers what happened, the sister's feelings and thoughts, and still talk about the story without speaking in the first person. When Dede invited the reporter in her house, the reporter walked the hallways of the house and observed the portraits on the walls. This was from an outsiders point of view, Dede wouldn't have noted certain characteristics of her own house. I believe the reporter is the narrator of In The Time Of The Butterflies.
It was especially hard to find out who the narrator was, because although I suspected it was the reporter, I couldn't link her to the author. There where no indications of a relationship between the author and anybody in the story, but when I read further into the Postscript I found a possible relationship. The Postscript says that Julia Alvarez "heard" about the story of the Mirabal Sisters when she was a young girl, therefore I knew she was not involved firsthand in the actions of the revolution because the times would not have fit. Alvarez mentions that she moved to New York, but made many trips back to the Dominican Republic. Also, she "sought out any information" about the sisters. This lead me to believe she did some investigating(like reporters do), and where better to go to than Dede, the surviving sister? This showed me the relationship between the narrator and author. I believe that the reporter(narrator) and the author are indeed the same woman.

2. The political argument of In The Time Of The Butterflies is the overwhelming and total control of dictatorship. Trujillo was the supreme leader of the Dominican Republic. The book revealed that he rose to the top when everyone above him would disappear. He then declared himself president, and anyone who argued the fact was killed also.

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He killed whomever stood in his way. The most disturbing aspect was that Trujillo was almost looked upon by the youth as a god. They grew up with his picture on the wall, right next to Jesus'. It was required that each household hang his picture. Children were read to about Trujillo and his importance in the bible. Even after the young sisters began to learn about the reality of Trujillo, they still felt bad about it, and felt like they were obligated to love him. A young Maria Teresa still felt an obligation toward Trujillo, despite what she had heard. Trujillo was a truly scary character. Nobody was above him. At the party where the Mirabal family was invited, Trujillo felt the Senator from San Cristobal's wife's leg under the table. He could care less whom he offended. Trujillo grossly abused his power. He controlled everyone, their lives, their family, their religion, through fear of death.

3. I do not believe that Julia Alvarez used her writing strategy as a way of acknowledging that she didn't know what happened to the Mirabal sisters in the months before their death. Julia Alvarez used her strategy to personalize the Mirabal sisters, and to give the reader an idea of how it was to live in the fear of the Trujillo regime. Julia Alvarez's strategy was creative and sparked interest in the struggle. By making up diaries for the sisters, we can begin to see how on a day-to-day basis it was to live in a country where you are not free. Also, Alvarez does not claim that every fact in her story is one hundred percent accurate, she mentions that is has been fictionalized for the novel. This way, it is clear to a wider audience how a powerful dictatorship can control your life. Julia Alvarez's strategy stirs interest, fear, sorrow, and hope to readers who otherwise couldn't understand how life was for people living in the Dominican Republic during Trujillo's regime.

4. The part of the novel that depicts the women in prison was one of the best parts of the story. It took us inside the prison walls, showing us just how horrific doing time there could be. The girls were treated badly, and the time in prison was taxing on their mind. They were strong however, and kept the other inmate's hopes alive. Also, the story depicted how lonely it was for the prisoners, and how some women looked to each other sexually to fill the void of love that the prison left. There where many strong and inspiring parts to this book, but I especially liked the scene early on when Minerva, along with her parents, are forced to meet Trujillo after leaving the party before Trujillo did(which was against the law). Minerva showed her courage in that room, not backing down from Trujillo. Instead of going to him apologetically and asking for forgiveness, she makes a play for her wish of going to the university. She plays Trujillo in dice(weighted). If she rolls higher, she can go to the university, if not then Trujillo "gets his wish". Trujillo wants Minerva, and he does not even feel uneasy about gambling for Minerva right in front of her parents. The two tie, so neither get what they want. During this scene Minerva shows her strength, by not speaking passive to Trujillo who already has seen at the party that she is no pushover. I found this scene to be an important turning point, where Minerva admits that she knows Virgilio, whereas she denied it before. This was one of the best parts of the novel.

5. Of all the sisters, I like Dede's character the least(in the beginning). There is no question in my mind that the bravest and most courageous sisters were Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa. They were more decisive, or "gung ho" about the revolution. Dede, on the other hand, started later than the rest, and maybe not for the best reasons. She was unsure wether or not to take part in it. She often cried and sought advice. Dede was noble, and stood by her sisters, but they fought for what they believed in their hearts. Dede was portrayed as unsure, and more fearful. This is why I liked Dede less than the others during the time of the revolution. Now, however, Dede should be given much more credit because she keeps their memory alive. Dede dedicated the rest of her life to make sure the great story of her sister's lives and deaths will always be remembered. This is why in the end Dede's character is a likeable one. Dede's role was crucial in the story, because if not for her, we would have no facts. Dede is told the world everything that happened as she saw and experienced it. Dede's role is most significant because without her, we might not have been blessed with In The Time Of The Butterflies.
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