In the Time of the Butterflies Sample Essay Outlines
by Julia Alvarez

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Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic #1: The Mirabal sisters and the roles of women

    I. Thesis statement: The four Mirabal sisters assume contrasting roles as women that define their decisions to participate—or not—in the anti-Trujillo movement throughout In the Time of the Butterflies. Dedé and Minerva are most conflicted, while María Teresa and Patria’s participation in the movement becomes an outgrowth of their relationships.

    II. The role of women in Dominican society is generally traditional and under Trujillo is particularly oppressive.

    A. In the Mirabal family, the mother stays at home, and the daughters’ futures
    are discussed with reference to marriage and mothering.

    B. Under Trujillo, women are treated as sex objects.
    a. Trujillo is known to maintain several mistresses outside his marriage.
    b. Trujillo courts and changes the life of Lina Lovatón.
    c. Trujillo is attracted to Minerva Mirabal and also Patria’s girl Noris.

    III. Dedé chooses a traditional female role and later regrets it.

    A. Dedé obeys traditional sex roles and avoids athletics, politics, and business.

    B. Dedé begins a “traditional” marriage to Jaimito that compromises her beliefs.

    C. Dedé must confront Jaimito about her interest in the movement, a gesture that ends up helping her troubled marriage but not saving it.

    D. Dedé goes on to divorce Jaimito and to become a successful sales executive.

    III. Minerva chooses an outspoken, non-traditional female role, which shifts over time.

    A. Minerva is a tomboy and “daddy’s girl” who must cut the cord with her father in order to begin her own adult life.

    B. Minerva is drawn to a challenging career as a lawyer and also joins the anti-Trujillo resistance.

    C. Minerva’s attraction to Virgilío is conflicting for her because she wants both an intellectual and romantic connection with a mate.

    D. Minerva marries a “political,” but over time, especially after prison, she wants to reduce her role as “La Mariposa” (a nationally known political) and spend more time with her family.

    IV. María Teresa and Patria are not conflicted about “obeying” versus “disobeying” traditional roles.

    A. Patria, religiously motivated, comes to “serve” her marriage happily and gets involved with politics as an extension of her religious beliefs and to be a good parent who helps her children’s future.

    B. María Teresa is preoccupied mostly with finding a mate, but becomes interested in the anti-Trujillo movement after meeting an attractive gunrunner.

  • Topic #2: The encroaching role of Trujillo’s regime in the Mirabals’ lives

    I. Thesis statement: Throughout In the Time of the Butterflies, the Trujillo regime is a persistent influence on the lives of Dominicans, and eventually it comes to control the Mirabal family. The Mirabal sisters transition from observers to aggressors—and ultimately victims—of the regime.

    II. Part 1: The Mirabal sisters observe the Trujillo regime and how it operates.

    A. Dedé recounts that the family knows Trujillo hires informers to hide and spy on families and that they must watch their spoken and written words.

    B. Minerva learns from Sinita that Trujillo only holds power because he killed to get it.
    a. Sinita tells Minerva the story of how her relatives were murdered.
    b. Minerva joins a political group to learn more about his regime.
    c. Minerva observes Sinita’s encounter with Trujillo at a pageant in 1944.

    C. María Teresa observes her classmates’ and Minerva’s response to Trujillo.
    a. María Teresa watches Trujillo court and remove Lina Lovatón from school.
    b. María Teresa learns of Trujillo’s evils and the resistance movement.
    c. María Teresa learns Minerva is involved in the movement...

(The entire section is 920 words.)