Life Under the Rule of Rafael Trujillo in "In Time of the Butterflies"

“Voz del pueblo voz del cielo” (Alvarez 199), meaning “Talk of the people, voice of God”. The novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, portrays what life was like under Rafael Trujillo’s regimen from 1930 to nearly 1961. His rigorous laws are brought out through many situations each Mirabal sister faces. Citizen’s of the Dominican Republic come together amongst the revolution to spread their opinions, and develop an awareness of whom they’re living under. Throughout In the Time of the Butterflies Dede struggles with overcoming the loss of her sisters, Patria battles with a loss of faith, and Minerva is in conflict with Trujillo’s ongoing control and supremacy.

Dede’s struggle with overcoming the loss of her sisters exhibits that she’s very considerate of them, teaches her to carry on their legend, makes her question if it’s all worth it and helps her develop an everlasting remembrance of their impact. Dede’s ongoing upset feeling toward her loss indicates how much she truly loves her sisters.

Dede specifically states she would rather be dead with her sisters then alive without them. It is not until a few months later she realizes she needs to be alive to carry on their legend. In the same way, Jaimito directly tells Dede it’s her, “Martyrdom to be alive without them” (Alvarez 308). She begins to question herself if everythings worth it. Worth seeing her sisters’ end up dead after everything they’ve done to try and break free of Trujillo’s regimen.

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Although Dede never fully adapts to life without her sisters she is able to conquer her lost thoughts by selling life insurance. It ends up being very ironic she’s an insurance saleswoman because it’s after she loses her family to Trujillo and his men. This time of her life is important because, Dede feels she’s saving the lives of families, in remembrance of her own. Dede’s having to overcome the loss of her sisters is the key conflict she deals with, grows through and is able to share amongst the Dominican Republic, similarly to Patria and her battle with regaining her faith.

Patria’s conflict with the loss of faith demonstrates that she is very religious, causes her to suffer, and reflect, then join the Salcedo group and allows her to grow as a person when she is able to overcome her loss and join the revolution. Even as a young child Patria exhibits the importance of faith in her life. Even Padre Ignacio acknowledges that perhaps Patria has “a calling for the religious life that was manifesting itself earlier” (Alvarez 45). It is not until Patria washes Pedrito’s feet that she decides to marry instead of become a nun.

Patria struggles significantly with her loss of faith and finds herself often reflecting on her situation. When Patria first loses her baby, she spends months living at her parent’s home trying to recover emotionally. It is when she takes steps towards regaining her faith by joining the Salcedo Group that she is able to see the true state of the children of the Dominican Republic.

Patria is able to regain her faith after joining the Revolution. Wile part of the revolution she realizes the importance of the Dominican Republic. To communicate her conviction to others she names her fourth child, Raul Ernesto after Cuban Revolutionaries. Patria’s loss of faith is the central conflict she faces, grows through, and is able to overcome for the benefit of all

Dominicans, and is very different from her sister Minerva’s experience. Minerva’s battle with Trujillo’s ongoing power and supremacy leaves her in disgust, beyond frustrated, in argument, and seeking revenge. When Minerva first begins school at Immaculada Concepcion, she is unaware of Trujillo’s government. Although this all changes when she meets a girl of her age named Sinita, who lost all the men in her family to Trujillo. Minerva starts to question her opinion on Trujillo and his power once hearing this. “In my head after I got to Inmaculada and met Sinita and saw what happened to Lina and realized that I’d just left a small cage to go into a bigger one, the size of our whole country” (Alvarez 13).

Through this quote, Minerva’s inferring that she’s leaving the strict orders of Inmaculada, only to walk into the even deeper orders of Trujillo. By this time, Minerva is completely against not only Trujillo’s regimen, but his “idea” of how their country should run. Minerva overcomes her issues with Trujillo by becoming a hub of the revolution. Through this, Minerva is able to seek not only her own opinion but others such as her husbands’, sisters, and fellow Dominican citizens.

Even though Minerva didn’t have the chance to finish what she set off to do, she carried a message beyond her community, let alone, members of the Revolution. Through the novel, Minerva greatly struggles with Trujillo’s government, but is eventually able to overcome his beliefs and unreasonable rules to better all of the Dominican Republic.

Throughout In the Time of the Butterflies Dede deals with losing her sisters, Patria struggles with regaining her faith, and Minerva battles with Trujillo and his ongoing control and power. Dede’s endeavor with emotionally overcoming the loss of her sisters, shaped her into a person committed to justice, safety, and the lives of others also undergoing Trujillo’s dictatorship. Patria undergoes a rough loss of faith through many events in her life, which eventually takes a turn for the better creating an even stronger relationship with God.

Minerva’s life changes once learning the real side of governor, Trujillo, generating an opinion she believed all must hear, evidentially impacting their country beyond imaginable. Through In the Time of the Butterflies we’re able to visibly realize the Dominican Republic potentially wouldn’t be a democracy today, if it weren’t for the Mirabal sisters and their everlasting seek for change.

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Life Under the Rule of Rafael Trujillo in "In Time of the Butterflies". (2023, May 05). Retrieved from

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