How does Trujillo change throughout the novel In the Time of the Butterflies?

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In The Time of the Butterflies is told through the perspective of the Mirabel sisters, and the argument can be made that from the very beginning to the end of the story, Trujillo remains essentially the same—or, at the very least, public perception of him stays the same. From the first chapter, there is an aura of fear surrounding his name and regime. He is omnipresent and seemingly omniscient, as godlike as the old Egyptian pharaohs. Trujillo's extensive spy network and harsh prison sentences hang over his people like a net until even speaking is dangerous; Alvarez writes of "words stitched to words until they are the winding sheet the family will be buried in when their bodies are found dumped in a ditch, their tongues cut off for speaking too much" (chapter one). Trujillo keeps his power through fear and folklore, elevating himself to a superhuman level. This godlike presence is carried throughout the novel and is the prime characterization of Trujillo. In chapter two, Minerva describes how their school textbooks "now followed the plot of the Bible," an image of El Jefe (Trujillo) embossed on their covers. Chapter three has Mate saying, "I always thought our president was like God, watching over everything I did." Much later in the book, Patria talks about praying to Trujillo's image, the portrait required by law to hang in every household. It is a constant comparison that cements the image of Trujillo as God—an image he enforced in every way possible.

El Jefe wanted people to like him. He wanted everything he could get, and he wasn't used to being told no. Throughout the timeline of the book alone, he has multiple mistresses, including poor Lina. He creates a cult around himself, and since, as Sinita says, those who criticize him "didn't live very long," he only ever seems like a positive figure to those young and naive girls. He throws lavish parties, surrounds himself in praise, and makes himself a desirable figure. In chapter six, Minerva feels disappointed that he doesn't invite her for the first dance, despite knowing that his full attention isn't necessarily a good thing. He is attractive and intoxicating, a god on Earth.

Trujillo uses his power to entice the naive and silence the bold. He is a dictator, and he thrives on the constant, unchanging dominion he holds over the nation. From this framework, the reader can understand how he doesn't change. Looking outside the novel, the historian knows that Trujillo was ultimately killed because of this rigidity. He did not bend to the needs or wishes of the nation; it was impossible to loosen his grip even slightly. The last of the seven men to free the Dominican Republic from Trujillo said, "the only way to get rid of him was to kill him." Trujillo was Trujillo, and the only options, for him, were power or death.

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