illustration of a young woman's silhouetted head with a butterfly on it located within a cage

In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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In The Time of the Butterflies, how do the stepsisters help the butterflies?

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Patria tells us about the time Margarita, one of their father’s daughters outside marriage, came to their door offering to help in the cause.  She does so by passing on a note to Patria from Mate in jail, asking for medicine and food.  Margarita had received the note from her mother’s cousin, who acts as middle man.  Patria prepares a package of supplies for her sisters and then passes this on to that cousin, who passes it on to the sisters in jail. In this way, one of the outcast sisters, who, by the way, has adopted the last name of “Mirabar” because she is proud of it, helps the Mirabar sisters in the revolution.

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Minerva discovers her father's second family when she follows her father's pickup truck (Ch Six).  After her initial shock and anger, Minerva realizes the children are her sisters too.  She makes an effort to meet them and act kindly toward not only her half-sisters, but their mother as well.  Later, Minerva makes sure the family has money to continue to survive. 

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