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 does the author use syntax to create rhyme and flow of the language?

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Alvarez does not frequently use rhyme, but she does often employ alliteration.  She often combines alliterative sounds with clever metaphors, such as Dede who lives life in "little sips of sadness," or in the case of Minerva who discovers the "china-crack of doubt" in her previously whole world-view.

Language flow is important as there are four different characters to maintain.  Each has a unique and distinct voice. 

Dede has a clipped and tortured tone to her speech that reveals her inner turmoil: 

Blessed are the peace-makers, Dede thought, but she couldn't for the life of her remember what the prize it was that had been promised them (Ch 9)

Minerva has a syntax that matches her drive:

All my life, I had been trying to get out of the house.  Papa always complained that of his four girls, I should have been born a boy, born to cut loose.  (Ch 12)

Maria Teresa communicates her hopes and fears in her diary.  The flow of her language is very internal and personal, as in this except from Chapter 3:

I have a longing, I guess.  Sometimes before a holiday or birthday party, I feel like I am going to burst. 

Patria is the most religious of the four sisters and her syntax often involves the spiritual and emotional: 

At school the nuns watched me.  They saw the pains I took in keeping my back straight during early mass, my hands steepled and held up of my own volition...(Ch 4)

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