illustration of a young woman's silhouetted head with a butterfly on it located within a cage

In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

Start Free Trial

Who dies in In the Time of the Butterflies?

Quick answer:

In In the Time of the Butterflies, Enrique Mirabal dies in 1953. Patria, Minerva, and Mate Mirabal are assassinated in 1960. Dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated in 1961. Minerva's husband, Manolo, is also killed.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Several characters die in Julia Alvarez's dramatized version of the life and death of the Mirabal sisters, In the Time of the Butterflies.

First, the sisters' father, Enrique, passes away in 1953. Apparently, he dies of natural causes, yet the family has already somewhat entered into the resistance movement against dictator Rafael Trujillo, for Enrique has already been questioned at the palace. A while later, Enrique, Mercedes, and Minerva meet with Trujillo but are released. The family is already suspect at this point.

Three of the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Mate, are assassinated on November 25, 1960, along with their driver, Rufino, as they are going to visit their husbands, who are in prison. The sisters are ambushed by five men and beaten to death. Rufino is murdered as well. The killers then put all the bodies back in the Jeep and push it off the edge of a cliff.

The assassinations were supposed to send a message to the revolutionaries that messing with Trujillo and his regime was a bad idea, but this actually backfires. The sisters become martyrs for their cause, and their deaths actually inspire the revolutionaries to continue their fight.

Rafael Trujillo is also assassinated on May 30, 1961, shot down along a stretch of deserted highway. Yet the fight continues, because Trujillo's son takes his place as the new dictator. Many revolutionaries continue to die, including Minerva's husband, Manolo.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens at the end of In the Time of the Butterflies?

Dedé narrates the end of In the Time of the Butterflies. The three other sisters, now released from prison, learn their husbands have been transferred to a prison farther away, Puerta Plata, that can be reached by a dangerous mountain road. One day, November 25th, they go on their fourth visit to the men with Rufino as their driver, even when warned of the danger. A telegram then comes to Dedé and her mother, telling them that the sisters are in the hospital. They are ready to go to them when another message comes: the sisters are dead.

The official word is that their Jeep went out of control and crashed off the edge of the mountain, but eyewitnesses report that Trujillo's soldiers killed Rufino and the women. Dedé comes to where they are laid out in the morgue and is upset that two of them are on mats on the floor, not on gurneys. She wants to die, but is told that it is her martyrdom to stay alive.

Dedé relates what she later learns: that five soldiers confronted the four in the jeep. While one soldier observed, each of the other four killed one of the jeep occupants. Dedé understands that it is her fate to keep her sisters' stories and memories alive, but she also knows that she can now begin to look to the future.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on