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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What are the defining characteristics of Minerva, and how does her narrative form reflect her character in In the Time of the Butterflies?

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In In the Time of the Butterflies, Minerva Mirabel is characterized as a driven, principled, and confident woman. Even during her youth, Minerva knows that she has the potential to achieve great things. She doesn't think anything should be able to hold her back. Consider how she compares her time at boarding school to the caged rabbit. Unlike the rabbit, however, Minerva refuses to become complacent with either comfort or limitations.

Your characterization of Minerva should also describe her keen sense of justice and fairness. She eschews special treatment for herself and wants to extend whatever privileges she might have to others. As you read her story, you will find numerous examples in which Minerva makes personal sacrifices for this ideal.

You might notice that the chapters narrated by Minerva reflect her optimistic energy. She frequently employs exclamations and opinionated interjections in her descriptions. When Minerva is excited about something, it seeps into the narration. For example, examine some of the language used to recount the recitation contest.

And the quadruplets were the best, by far!

Despite this, Minerva can also be rather matter-of-fact when matters are of a serious nature. When she describes her revelation of the truth about Lina Lóvaton and Trujillo, Minerva sticks to a simple recounting of her experience. Even when describing how her fear compelled her to hide her developing breasts, she does not get maudlin or self-pitying about it. Rather, her straightforward tone in these situations works to underscore her resolve.

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