Study Guide

In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies Quotes

Essential Quotes

Essential Quotes by Character: Dede Maribal

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 5

“You sound upset, Mamá Dedé,” Minou observed.

“You know I don’t believe in all this spirit business. And I think it’s a disgrace that you, a daughter of—“

Minou’s eyes flashed with anger, and Minerva herself stood before Dedé again. “I’m my own person. I’m tired of being the daughter of a legend.”

Quickly, the face of her sister fell away like water down a slanted roof. Dedé held out her arms for her dear niece-daughter. Dark mascara tears were coursing down Minou’s cheeks. Didn’t she, Dedé, understand that feeling of being caught in a legacy. “Forgive me,” she whispered. “Of course, you have a right to be yourself.”

Summary
Dedé Mirabal, the only surviving sister of the Mirabal family, is responsible for raising the children of her martyred sisters. Minou, the daughter of the most passionate rebel, Minerva, frequently visits the family’s former servant, Fela, who claims to be in contact with the spirits of the sisters. Dedé, who fired Fela for this reason, has no patience with such superstition. When Minou asked about the whereabouts of Virgilio Morales (a friend and resistance fighter who had fled the country long ago), Dedé sarcastically suggests that Minou ask Fela. Dedé verbalizes her disdain for “this spirit business” and begins to question how Minou, who is the daughter of a martyr for freedom, could fall for such nonsense. Minou, with the same rebellious spirit that her mother had, states her resentment at always having to be known only as Minerva’s daughter. Dedé, suddenly sympathizing with her niece, apologizes and states that Minou is her own person and has the right to be so.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 9

Dedé had been so surprised. “Why, Patria! Who put you up to this?”

Patria looked puzzled. “We’re all in it, if that’s what you mean. But I’m speaking for myself.”

“I see,” Dedé had said, but really what she saw was Minerva in back of it all. Minerva agitating. No doubt she had sent Patria over rather than come herself since she and Dedé were not getting along. It had been years since they’d fought openly—since Lío, wasn’t it?—but recently their hot little exchanges had started up again.

What could Dedé say? She had to talk to Jaimito first. Patria had given her a disappointed look, and Dedé had gotten defensive. “What? I should go over Jaimito’s head? It’s only fair. He’s the one farming the land, he’s responsible for this place.”

“But can’t you decide on your own, then tell him?”

Dedé stared at her sister, disbelieving.

“That’s what I did,” Patria went on. “I joined, and then I talked Pedrito into joining me.”

“Well, I don’t have that kind of marriage,” Dedé said. She smiled to take the huffiness out of her statement.

“What kind of marriage do you have?” Patria looked at her with that sweetness on her face that could always penetrate Dedé’s smiles. Dedé looked away.

Summary
Patria has come to her sister Dedé’s home and asked if she could bury some boxes in their cacao fields. Dedé, sensing that this burial was for revolutionary purposes, objects. But her first objection is not about the burial, but about Patria’s involvement in the resistance. As she has suspected, it is Minerva, the most passionate of the sisters, who has convinced Patria to join the cause. Dedé states that she will have to consult her husband. Dedé’s subservience to Jaimito is something that Patria does not understand. However, Dedé points out that the land belongs to him, that he works it for their livelihood, and he will be the one to suffer should the boxes be discovered. The conversation switches to the type of marriages...

(The entire section is 1664 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Fear

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 5

She decided not to read the papers anymore. They were turning her upside down inside. The regime was going insane, issuing the most ludicrous regulations. A heavy fine was now imposed on anyone who wore khaki trousers and shirts of the same color. It was against the law now to carry your suit jacket over your arm. Lío was right, this was an absurd and crazy regime. It had to be brought down.

But when she read the list to Jaimito, she did not get the reaction she expected. “Well?” he said when she was through and looked up at him.

“Isn’t it ridiculous? I mean, it’s absurd, insanely ridiculous.” Unlike her golden-tongue sister, Dedé was not eloquent with reasons. And my God, what reasons did she need to explain these ridiculous insanities!

Summary
Lío (Virgilio Morales), the object of both Minerva’s and Dedé’s affections, is frequently in the news for his activities in the resistance movement. Dedé’s mother is unable to read (though she will not admit this), so Dedé habitually reads her the papers. However, she begins to edit some of what she reads so that her mother will not be unnecessarily upset. Yet Dedé herself is bothered by the news, not just about Lío, but by the new regulations. The new law is that citizens cannot wear khaki pants and shirts, because that is the official military uniform. The government’s fear is that it will become difficult to distinguish between military and citizens in an armed conflict. Additionally, it is illegal to carry one’s jacket over the arm, lest it should conceal a weapon. Dedé is outraged by the absurdity of these new regulations, though her husband Jaimito is not. Wishing that she had Minerva’s gift for expression, Dedé regrets that she cannot adequately explain to Jaimito why such rules are outrageous.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 6

They must have caught him! “Virgilio Morales?” I blurt out. I can’t believe my own ears.

His face hardens, suspicion clouds the gaze. “You know Virgilio Morales?”

What a complete idiot I am! How can I now protect him and myself? “His family is from El Cibao, too,” I say, choosing my words carefully. “I know the son teaches at the university.”

El Jefe’s gaze is withdrawing further and further into some back room of his mind where he tortures meaning out of the words he hears. He can tell I’m stalling. “So, you do know him?”

“Not personally, no,” I say in a little voice. Instantly, I feel ashamed of myself. I see now how easily it happens. You give in on little things, and soon you’re serving in his government, marching in his parades, sleeping in his bed.

Summary
Minerva attends a party held by Trujillo at his special request. She is dancing with him, much against her will, but she knows how dangerous it would be to refuse him. As they are making small talk, the dictator...

(The entire section is 1283 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear, Michael Foster