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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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What elements in In the Time of the Butterflies are fictional?

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It is important to remember that whilst this novel is based on historical events and real people who actually lived, breathed and died, this text is still a work of fiction. Alvarez herself provides a note at the very end of her novel where she talks about the act of writing it and how she had to resort to her own imagination in creating and constructing the characters of the four very different sisters and their actions:

So what you will find here are the Mirabals of my creation, made up, but, I hope, true to the spirit of the real Mirabals.

Alvarez goes on to say that she never actually met the Mirabal sisters and, although she had researched into Trujillo's regime, she took certain liberties about specific historical events in her aim of creating a real setting and immersing her readers in a particular epoch of the history of the Dominican Republic. This, she argues, was something that fiction could only help her readers to understand.

Thus, readers of this powerful novel need to remember that the lives of the sisters and their very different characters and reasons for becoming involved in the revolution against Trujillo's regime are the result of the author's imagination rather than historical fact. She took the bare details of the Mirabal sisters' lives and wove them into the work of fiction to highlight the despotism of Trujillo, but also the way that three women were courageous enough to take a stand and oppose such tyranny.

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