What are three themes in the novel In the Time of the Butterflies?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that one theme is authoritarianism.  That's not a tough theme to explain.  Trujillo is in control of a complete dictatorship and rules with an iron fist.  That kind of government permeates the daily lives of all of the characters in the book.  But it especially affects the Mirabal sisters, because they are working against that regime.  They must carefully watch everything that they say and do or risk their lives.  

I think a second theme is the theme of women in political leadership roles.  There are times in the novel when the Mirabal sisters struggle with their dual role of being traditional women that stay out of political issues and helping to lead the rebellion.  

A third theme is theme of courage and heroism.  The Mirabel sisters are incredibly brave women.  They are throwing off cultural norms by not staying at home and keeping out of public, political events.  Their actions at times are quite public and put their lives at risk.  Trujillo knows about them and is constantly looking for a way to eliminate their influence. What I like about the heroism that the Mirabal sisters demonstrate is that their heroism is frequently intertwined with normal mundane life. If this was a Marvel movie, the hero would just be blowing up a bunch of stuff . . . the entire time.  That's not so in this book.  The sisters' heroism is shown in conjunction with their daily lives of marriage, dating, and being a parent.  

marcyskramer | Student

There are several themes in the book, one of them being authoritarianism.

The book focuses on the authoritarian regime of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, which lasted approximately 30 years.

Another theme is that of imprisonment (entrapment). This pervades the Trujillo regime as well as the lives of the Mirabal sisters, the main characters in the novel.

Religion, mostly Catholicism, is another dominant theme in the book. It is a strong force in the lives of the characters as well as the Dominican Republic's politics. The author also presents a connection between Trujillo's relationship with God. In addition, Truillo acts like a god, in an evil sense, in how he dominates those he considers to be his subjects.   

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In the Time of the Butterflies

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