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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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What was the length of Minerva's imprisonment?

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Minerva is in jail for a total of seven months before transitioning home under the condition of house arrest.

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Minerva opens chapter 12 just after her release from prison; she is now under house arrest to serve the remainder of her sentence.

She reflects that she was imprisoned for a total of seven months prior to being released to house arrest, and a great deal of that time was spent in solitary confinement. Because of the conditions in prison, Minerva is quite ill upon her return home; she has lost a great deal of weight and is fighting to recover from pneumonia. She passively passes time for a while, resting alone under sheets in her bed with images of her life appearing in the "watery soup" of her own thoughts. It occurs to her that she felt "so much stronger and braver in prison" and that at home, she is simply falling apart.

Determined to regain control of her life, Minerva comes to the realization that she is ready for a "new life" and that she must move forward following her release from prison. Slowly, Minerva begins to acclimate to being at home again, and she participates in new endeavors to earn much-needed money for their family.

Despite personal feelings of being quite "frail," Minerva finds that surviving in prison for seven months has "elevated her to superhuman status" in the resistance movement against Trujillo.

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