In the Time of the Butterflies

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Butterflies and Moths
For decades, the Dominican Republic was ruled under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. His harsh ways destroyed the chance for freedom, equality, education, and happiness for the citizens. In the novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, Dede, and Maria Teresa, politically take a stand in hope to fight for their country. They were Las Mariposas, “the butterflies,” the strong sisters of the face of rebellion and leadership fighting against the moths, the political army of Trujillo. Butterflies and moths, creatures alike, yet different in significance, illuminate the different opposing sides that underline the struggle of the Dominican Republic.

Early in the novel, it becomes clear that fear has a tight grip on the Dominican Republic. The fear that their words will be “repeated, distorted, words recreated by those who might bear them a grudge, words stitched to words until they are the winding sheet the family will be buried in when their bodies are found dumped in a ditch, their tongues cut off for speaking too much” (Alvarez 10). Even though many were against Trujillo, speaking out was not a safe option. While in performing a play for Trujillo, Sinita, a friend of Minerva’s, displayed her sense of hatred to a crowd of Trujillo supporters, which left the room in complete shock. With Minerva’s chanting lies of viva Trujillo, they are able to leave but only to be blinded by moths (29). “They hit the windshield, they left blurry marks, until it seemed like I was looking at the world through a curtain of tears” (28). The moths’ darkness represented the strength that Trujillo had over the nation. They signified Trujillo’s defeat over Minerva and her friends, who had hoped to make him change. The moths appear again, as “The paper lit up. Ashes fluttered like moths, and Dede ground them to dust on the floor,” and signified Dede’s action against the rebellion (83). She had stopped Minerva...
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