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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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Why and how did the Mirabal sisters die?

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In her work, The Time of the Butterflies, Alvarez tells of the Mirabal sisters' death as narrated by Dede and told to her by various people. There existed different accounts of their death even by the five murderers themselves a year after the women's murder at the trial. The women were murdered because of their opposition to Trujillo and their resistance to his tyranny.

The sisters (Minerva, Mate, and Patria) were ambushed. Patria fled from the captors to the truck driver who was on the same road as the sisters and begged that he tell the Mirabal family "that the calies are going to kill us!" (302) Unfortunately, the sisters and their driver did not escape. Later, Dede relates that she saw the marks left by fingerprints on Mate's neck as well as marks on Minerva's throat. She also says she knows her sisters were "clubbed." However, Dede states they were "not violated."

After the women were murdered, the killers placed the bodies in the Jeep, along with Rufino, the driver, and pushed it over the edge of a cliff.

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Three of the Mirabal sisters, Minirva, Maria Teresa ("Mate"), and Patria are killed by forces loyal to Trujillo ("El Jefe").  The thugs run the sisters off the road and murder them individually.  The reason for their killings was their opposition to the regime and inciting others to try to overthrow the brutal dictator.

Only Dede, the fourth sister, remains to tell their story to the world.  Once reluctant to get involved, and for years feeling guilty about her sister's deaths, Dede eventually understands that her life still has purpose.  She is able to tell the story of her sisters' valiant efforts and prove to the world what an evil man Trujillo was to the people of the Dominican Republic. 

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