In the Time of the Butterflies Questions and Answers
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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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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. 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 of personification 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...

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shainice | Student

Julia Alvarez utilizes a plethora of figurative devices in her novel, In the Time of the Butterflies.

For example, in Chapter 6 (pg. 108) a hyperbole is used by Mama as she exaggerates Minerva’s kind and helpful nature, “Ay, mijita, you are going to fight everyone’s fight, aren’t you?” This is an effective use of hyperbole as it is impossible for Minerva to fight the battles of everyone in her community.

The use of similes ‘’adversity was like a key in the lock for me” stated by Minerva on page 269 and ‘”I felt my heart lifting, my cross light as a feather” which can be found on page 214. There was also the use of a metaphor on page 12 “a daughter is a needle in the heart” which means parents feel/care more when their daughters are hurting than they would for their sons.

‘”I felt my heart lifting, my cross light as a feather” effectively express Patria’s euphoria about having her son excused from prison because he was a minor. Similarly, Minerva quote effectively expresses that hardships unlocks her strength and fearlessness.