Dede is at first very suspicious of the American interviewer. She has been enduring the questions about her sisters, "Las Mariposas" (the butterflies) for over fifty years (1943-1994, when the novel begins). As the American reporter approaches the memorial which Dede loyally maintains, she can only think "Oh dear, another one." Every November, on the anniversary of their deaths, reporters and others come to remember the three Mirabal sisters who were murdered trying to free their country from the brutal rule of the dictator Trujillo.
Although this reporter is one of the many to have come, for some reason Dede is able to open up to her, perhaps because the reporter has the wherewithall to be abashed at her own curiosity, recognizing that Dede, after all, is a real human being and not just the famed Mirabal sister who lived.
This recognition of a "real person" is one of the primary themes of Alvarez' novel. While she certainly wants the bravery of the sisters known, more importantly, she wants them to be known as real people, with real lives, real loves, and real losses.