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
Start Free Trial

What is the purpose of In the Time of the Butterflies?

In the Time of the Butterflies is intended to reveal the conditions of tyranny and the need to resist it even to death. In the book, Julia Alvarez dramatizes the story of the Mirabal sisters, who fought against the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies is intended to present the heroism of the Mirabal sisters, who fought against the tyranny of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. This dramatized account of the lives of real people reveals both the brutality of a dictator's regime and the...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies is intended to present the heroism of the Mirabal sisters, who fought against the tyranny of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. This dramatized account of the lives of real people reveals both the brutality of a dictator's regime and the courage and faith of those who resist it.

Mate, Minerva, and Patria are three sisters who have watched their country descend into chaos during Trujillo's reign. They come to realize the evil that surrounds them and the danger that they and their loved ones are in. The young women become involved with the resistance movement through their friends and husbands, and Mate and Minerva end up in prison for their efforts in fighting the dictator.

The book goes into detail about the sufferings of the sisters and their loved ones and how they cope with that suffering. Mate, for instance, keeps a diary while in prison, showing the horrors of prison life and the toll it takes on her. Yet she remains strong in her resistance, and Minerva openly rebels.

The Mirabal sisters come to be known as "the butterflies," and the regime views them as a major threat. This is why they are assassinated in the end. Their other sister, Dedé, is left to tell their story and to reflect on her own guilt in not joining the resistance (her husband wouldn't allow it) and on the legacy of her sisters.

Indeed, this book is meant to show readers what it means to live under a dictatorship as well as the necessity to fight for freedom and truth and love.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on