In the Time of the Butterflies Essential Quotes by Theme: Fear
by Julia Alvarez

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Essential Quotes by Theme: Fear

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 5

She decided not to read the papers anymore. They were turning her upside down inside. The regime was going insane, issuing the most ludicrous regulations. A heavy fine was now imposed on anyone who wore khaki trousers and shirts of the same color. It was against the law now to carry your suit jacket over your arm. Lío was right, this was an absurd and crazy regime. It had to be brought down.

But when she read the list to Jaimito, she did not get the reaction she expected. “Well?” he said when she was through and looked up at him.

“Isn’t it ridiculous? I mean, it’s absurd, insanely ridiculous.” Unlike her golden-tongue sister, Dedé was not eloquent with reasons. And my God, what reasons did she need to explain these ridiculous insanities!

Lío (Virgilio Morales), the object of both Minerva’s and Dedé’s affections, is frequently in the news for his activities in the resistance movement. Dedé’s mother is unable to read (though she will not admit this), so Dedé habitually reads her the papers. However, she begins to edit some of what she reads so that her mother will not be unnecessarily upset. Yet Dedé herself is bothered by the news, not just about Lío, but by the new regulations. The new law is that citizens cannot wear khaki pants and shirts, because that is the official military uniform. The government’s fear is that it will become difficult to distinguish between military and citizens in an armed conflict. Additionally, it is illegal to carry one’s jacket over the arm, lest it should conceal a weapon. Dedé is outraged by the absurdity of these new regulations, though her husband Jaimito is not. Wishing that she had Minerva’s gift for expression, Dedé regrets that she cannot adequately explain to Jaimito why such rules are outrageous.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 6

They must have caught him! “Virgilio Morales?” I blurt out. I can’t believe my own ears.

His face hardens, suspicion clouds the gaze. “You know Virgilio Morales?”

What a complete idiot I am! How can I now protect him and myself? “His family is from El Cibao, too,” I say, choosing my words carefully. “I know the son teaches at the university.”

El Jefe’s gaze is withdrawing further and further into some back room of his mind where he tortures meaning out of the words he hears. He can tell I’m stalling. “So, you do know him?”

“Not personally, no,” I say in a little voice. Instantly, I feel ashamed of myself. I see now how easily it happens. You give in on little things, and soon you’re serving in his government, marching in his parades, sleeping in his bed.

Minerva attends a party held by Trujillo at his special request. She is dancing with him, much against her will, but she knows how dangerous it would be to refuse him. As they are making small talk, the dictator mentions Virgilio Morales, her friend. Caught off guard, she acts visibly surprised and upset, which clues him into to the fact that she is acquainted with him. He is interested that she should know someone who is involved in the resistance movement determined to overthrow his government. Out of fear, Minerva tries to backtrack, stating that she has heard of him because he comes from the same village. Though she is not sure that Trujillo believes her excuse, Minerva is somewhat relieved when the conversation shifts. Yet she is also ashamed, because through giving in to her fear she has made a move toward indirectly supporting the dictator’s regime. The small concessions are the baby steps toward complicity and involvement.

Essential Passage 3: Chapter 11

Thursday, March 17 (56 days)

The fear is the worst part. Every time I hear footsteps coming down the hall, or the clink of the key turning in the lock, I’m tempted to curl up in the corner like a hurt animal, whimpering, wanting to be safe. But I know if I do that, I’ll be giving in to a low part of myself, and I’ll feel even less human. And that is what...

(The entire section is 1,283 words.)