In the Time of the Butterflies Questions and Answers
by Julia Alvarez

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What quotes characterize Trujillo and the Mirabal sisters in "In the Time of the Butterflies"?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Perhaps the best quotes which characterize the differences between the brutal dictator and the freedom-loving Mirabal sisters are found in Chapter Six. Here, we witness the callousness of "El Jefe," a man concerned only for himself and his base needs against Minerva's larger concerns for her family and her people.

At the dance in which the Mirabal family is compelled to attend, Minerva finds herself within Trujillo's clutches. Captured in his arms, Trujillo tries to extract information about Lio and threatens Minerva with the one thing she might find most objectionable: the closing of the university. She cries:

"El Jefe, no," I plead with him. "Ours is the first university in the New World! It would be such a blow to our country."

After a long look, he smiles again. "Maybe I will keep it open if that will draw you to our side." ...

"Your medals," I complain..."They're hurting me."

The battle of wills between Minerva and El Jefe are just beginning. He implies favors that have no guarantee of delivery: the status of the university, the safety of the Mirabals, of Lio, and the larger resistance.

Furthermore, his "medals" are hurting Minerva, and her country, piercing in ways that punctuate beyond the exterior. The "pin" impales his citizens to death, and for no other reason than his own glory.

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hessexpress6636 | Student

Perhaps the most important quote in the book that characterizes Minerva as well as the Mirabel sisters is when she says "I have learned through stuggle and through this government, that i must earn respect from others to become a leader in the Domincan Republic" (pg 231)