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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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What are three examples of figurative language from In the Time of Butterflies, and where do they occur in the novel?

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1. In Chapter Five the girls, Dede and Minerva, finish their work at their father's shop and head to Tio [Uncle] Pepe's where they will play volleyball with their friends. But, Minerva has invited Mario and Lio Morales along, too. When it comes time to play, Minerva is not around....

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Dede looks up at the galleria where her sister and Lio have been sitting,

... the two empty chairs facing each other recollect the vanished speakers.

Here is an example ofpersonification as the chairs "face" each other, and they "recollect," or remember, as only people can. 

2. In Chapter Six, Minerva is taken to the Discovery Day Dance by her father at the invitation of Trujillo. Minerva sits with Don Manuel and later must dance with him when Trujillo cuts in. As he dances with Minerva, he holds her tightly and makes a very vulgar gesture toward her, saying he would like to "conquer" her. She slaps him, but at that moment a storm breaks out, so Minerva and her father leave. Because they depart before Trujillo, they break the law. 

Two guardias arrive at their house the next day. summoning them to the governor's palace. After her father is taken to another room,Mamá watches Don Antonio like an animal waiting to attack if her young one is threatened. [This is a simile, a contrast between two unlike persons or things using the words "like"]

3. In Chapter Eight, Patria's boys, Nelson and Noris, have grown up. When Nelson mentions that he wants to join the liberators, Patria rushes to Padre de Jesus Lopez for advice, but, sadly, he tells her he is lost himself, Patria goes herself on a retreat with Padre de Jesus and the Salcedo group to Constanza. 

 Using a stated metaphor, comparing churches to way stations, Patria says,

Ever since I’d had my vision of the Virgencita, I knew spirit was imminent, and that the churches were just glass houses, or way stations on our road through this rocky life.

Purple mountains reaching towards angelfeather clouds; a falcon soaring in a calm blue sky; God combing His sunshine fingers through green pastures straight out of the Psalms.

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Alvarez uses lots of figuritive language throughout the novel.  In the very first chapter, Dede's father says of his daughter, "Every foot needs a hard shoe," meaning that someone has to be the non-sentimental one in the family, and it is Dede in the case of the Mirabals.

 In Chapter Two, Minvera begins to discover that Trujillo ("El Jefe") is not a benevolent leader.  Her illusions are starting to come apart, and she feels within her heart "a china crack of doubt." 

When Minerva learns about her father's second family, she tells him, "I know the clouds have already rained," the meaning here is that one cannot undo what has already happened  (Ch 6). 

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