In the Time of the Butterflies Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapters 9–12 and Epilogue
by Julia Alvarez

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Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapters 9–12 and Epilogue

New Characters

Peña: a guard assigned to monitor the Mirabal family

Don Bernardo: an elderly neighbor who remains loyal to the family despite their troubles

Santicló: a friendly prison guard who helps the girls by transporting medicine and notes

Magdalena: Mate’s prison friend, with whom she has a lesbian encounter

Rufino: the hired driver who chaperones the sister on short trips and befriends them

Delia: a female doctor and revolutionary who has managed to remain free


Chapter nine returns to 1994 and Dedé’s conversation with the reporter. Dedé concludes the day’s interview. Slightly agitated, Minou arrives in her car before the interviewer leaves. Minou tells Dedé she has gone to see Fela for a fortune-telling, but the deceased sisters didn’t have anything else to say, that they must be at rest. Minou asks Dedé why she didn’t join in with her sisters and so Dedé tells her the rest of the tale.

Dedé recalls the year 1960, when her sister Patria came and asked if she could bury some boxes behind Dedé’s and Jaimito’s home. Dedé said she would have to ask Jaimito and that it was unlikely. Patria asks her why she can’t decide without Jaimito, and Dedé admits she doesn’t have “that kind” of marriage. Patria asks what sort of marriage she does have and Dedé bursts into tears. When she did ask Jaimito, he told her she was to say no and also to avoid her sisters.

Her three sisters come to visit her later that year and tell her “the goat” (code for Trujillo) will be killed within three weeks, and that action groups are galvanizing. They invite her to a meeting at Patria’s. Dedé finally confesses that Jaimito has said he’ll leave her if she joins. Dedé decided she will go to the meeting, and that she will leave Jaimito. Minerva indirectly encourages her by telling her she can hear Virgilio on the radio late at night if she chooses to tune in. Dedé worries about leaving Jaimito, especially since she has three sons and she fears Jaimito would try and keep them if they separated.

Dedé goes to see a minister to talk about her marriage one last time before she leaves Jaimito. This is in defiance of Jaimito who tells her she is going “over his head.” While she waits to see a minister, she overhears the ministers talking about the movement. This causes her to realize that the movement is more widespread than she had ever thought. When she comes home, Jaimito and the boys are missing. Dedé gets a ride to his mother’s, where everyone is visiting. The sisters tell an angry Jaimito that Dedé is not part of the movement, and Manolo encourages Dedé and Jaimito to take a “honeymoon” vacation. They do, and they reconcile rather than split up, despite Dedé’s plan.

A week later, the family is slowly rounded up by the SIM, Trujillo’s police. Leandro was arrested, and they had come for Pedrito and Nelson, who escaped into the hills. The SIM ransacked and set fire to the family home, which brought Pedrito and Nelson down from the hills and led to a beating and arrest. Dedé calls Minerva to inform her of what is happening and realizes that, though she has not “joined” the movement, her fate is bound up with that of her sisters. Minerva has tuberculosis and has to borrow money from Dedé. Dedé drives off to provide it, thinking that her marriage has shifted for the better.

Their mother has been shielded from the arrests but learns of what is happening when the SIM come to her house and collect Mate—and then they arrest Minerva. Dedé sees the bushes rustle and understands that their mother’s home has been bugged. She remembers that Minerva is wanted dead by Trujillo.

Chapter ten switches to the months between January and March of 1960, and is told from Patria’s voice. Now that she has no home, she lives at her mother’s and shares a room with Mate until Mate is arrested. A SIM captain named Peña regularly visits the family to monitor them. He tells Patria that Pedrito must really love...

(The entire section is 3,505 words.)