March 25, 2013
When people think of the Dominican Republic in the twentieth century, two words
come to mind: Rafael Trujillo. His dictatorship was defined by a rigid control over the
Dominican people. But many would also have people remember another history of the
Dominican Republic, a history of brave resistance and immense sacrifice. Two different
words come to mind when thinking of this history: The Butterflies. These were the code
names of Minerva, María Teresa, and Patria Mirabal, three sisters who were key members
in an underground movement to overthrow Trujillo. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia
Alvarez is a somber historical novel showing the role of women in society and their
household in the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal sisters became role models to many
women all around the world. In the Dominican Republic, men had absolute authority over
everything in the early 1900’s. They were considered dominant, while women were
expected to be elegant and inferior. Men were able to live whatever lifestyle they wanted
to live in. What mattered was, as long as men were able to make their family’s income,
they could do whatever they desired. On the other hand, women had to run errands and
take care of their husbands and children. This was the common system at the time.
Alvarez conveys the Mirabal sisters’ courage and their desperation, and the full import of
their tragedy in order to emphasize the roles of women in the Dominican Republic.
The traditions and attitudes in the Dominican Republic did not stop the Mirabal sisters from standing up for what they believed in. For instance, the sisters proved to their
society that that the dictatorship was a horrible thing. The Butterflies were fully
committed to abolish the regime of Trujillo, even though they knew that they could be
killed. They gave up many things to gain their freedom. The Mirabal sisters made a huge
impact in the Dominican Republic. Minerva was a strong character in the Dominican
Republic society. She was very interested in politics and women’s rights. Instead of
getting married early and having children, she intended on going to law school and be
more involved in politics. She was very motivated and she did not let anyone hold her
back when she was aroused on something. She was not afraid to speak up to the public
about Trujillo’s wrong doings. “ I want to go to the university and, I’m not interested in
admirers until I have my law degree” (Alvarez 99). Although Minerva was bold,
independent, and stubborn at times, she wanted to stand up for what was right, and fix
what was abominable.Minerva always wanted to go to the University, because she wanted
to study laws. She liked to talk about politics and she had the courage to tell Trujillo
that the women need to go to the University, so that, women could defend their rights.
But, Trujillo said that the University is not a place for women, this enraged to Minerva.
For instance, While she was dancing with Trujillo she told him that, she wanted to go to
the University, she was trying to convince him to let her go to the University. This
demonstrates how courageous she was.
General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was a dictator who ran his country quite
oppressively during times of political instability and revolutions. In the book it shows
how he got to power and stayed in power. He did it by having a radar on nearly every
person in his country. “ The Mirabal Sisters are drawn into politics by Trujillo’s intolerable wickedness rather than by any deeply felt of intellectually justified
commitment” (Echevarria).People would be scared to talk bad about him anywhere they
went beyond their home. Although he was a married man he kept multiple mistresses and
kept them in houses across the country to...
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