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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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What symbols represent each sister in In the Time of the Butterflies?

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Dede, the surviving sister, is described by her father as a "hard shoe."   On the exterior, she does seem hard, but after her journey of remembrance, she becomes much more pliant.

Minerva is the "firecracker."  She does not hesitate to set off sparks and is often oblivious to the danger that her pyrotechics might ignite.  She learns, just before her death,  how to better control her passions.

Maria Teresa is the diary-keeping sister who might best be remembered for her childlike drawings of "bows" on her shoes.  Maria Teresa's drawings evolve from girlish fashion to plans for bombs and escape routes.

Patria's symbol might well be the cross.  She is the most religious of the sisters, but while she brandishes the cross as protection in the beginning, by the end she wields her faith like a sword. 

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