What literary devices are found in the book In the Time of the Butterflies?

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Julia Alvarez deploys vivid imagery in the descriptions of the Mirabal sisters’ Dominican home. To create these images, she often uses similes and metaphors. Another literary device is dialogue. Alvarez often presents the family in conversation, using distinct phrasing to distinguish the different characters. The father, for example, often uses idioms or sayings.

A description of the neighborhood where Dedé lives, which she captures in a sketch, is a huge, flower-covered tree; its branches are said to be “squirreling” out from the trunk. Other flowers are also mentioned, including the exotic orchids that Dede grows. An extended metaphor for grief is provided by her cutting the flowers: “in snippets, pinches, little sips of sadness.”

Similes are also used in the descriptive passages, such as a reference to silence that is emphasized by comparing it to a sound: “the night is as clear as the sound of a bell.” The mixing of different senses is the device of synesthesia.


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