How is the language used in the book In the Time of the Butterflies to show resistance?

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jfwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the Mirabal sisters and the Dominican people in general, language is all they have to resist Trujillo's oppressive regime. Each of the four sisters uses language in her own way to try to change their lives.

Minerva knows the power of language early on; she wants to be a lawyer.  A lawyer's chief tool, of course, is words.  She will use words to try to convince the people to rise up against Trujillo and free themselves.  She will use words to persuade her sisters to join the cause.  She even uses words in prison to comfort other women. 

Maria Teresa comes to resistance through language as well.  Consider how her diary evolves as she matures and becomes more and more persuaded that freedom for her people is necessary.

Patria's resistance comes through weighing what she has been told about religion against what she actually witnesses and experiences.  When her church is attacked, she pushes over a statue of Mary, an act of sacrilege that would previously have been unthinkable:

I scrambled to a little niche where a statue of the Virgencita was standing, and begging her pardon, I knocked her and the pedestal over.

Dede is the slowest to realize the power of language to resist.  In fact, she stays so within the confines of fear that she is unable to give voice to her own desires for freedom.  However, the shrine she maintains and the dedication to telling her sisters' story eventually speaks volumes. 

Read the study guide:
In the Time of the Butterflies

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