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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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Who was imprisoned in In the Time of the Butterflies?

Quick answer:

Two of the sisters are sent to jail in In the Time of the Butterflies: Minerva and Mate. Several members of their families are arrested as well, including Pedrito, Nelson, Manolo, and Leandro.

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In chapter 10, Patria discusses the horror of watching the SIM, which is Trujillo's secret police force, arrest numerous people she loves.

At first, her husband, Pedrito, and her son, Nelson, are arrested, along with Manolo (Miverva's husband) and Leandro (Mate's husband). Not long after, Minerva is taken to prison. Patria moves in with her mother, and on the third day she is there, the SIM also come to arrest Mate.

Eventually, Patria is successful in obtaining a pardon for Nelson, who was a minor when arrested. Minerva and Mate are offered a pardon but refuse it because, as Minerva explains, "Accepting a pardon meant we thought we had something to be pardoned for." They refuse freedom unless it is offered to everyone who has been unjustly imprisoned.

Minerva serves a great deal of time in solitary confinement for various "offenses," and Mate falls into a deep depression from being separated from her family. In May, months into their imprisonment, the sisters are taken to a "joke of a trial" with no legal representation. They are sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of five thousand pesos. Minerva laughs in an act of defiance as the sentence is read; Mate bows her head and cries at the prospect of being imprisoned for almost an additional two thousand days.

After seven months in prison, Minerva and Mate are released to house arrest with several stipulations: no trips, no visitors, and no contact with "politicals."

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