in the time of the butterflies setting analysis

In the Time of the Butterflies is a recountment of the Mirabel sisters’ story that took place in various locations in the Dominican Republic during the 1940s – 1960s under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, and also including brief moments taking place in 1994. The different locations depict the sisters’ actions for leading the revolution throughout the country. In almost every place, Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, encounters many obstacles from their enemies, but that does not discourage them from leading a revolution.

The story follows each sister as they fight for freedom, however Dede was the sole survivor out of the four. The Mirabel sisters were born and raised on their father’s farm with his hopes that they will continue the family tradition of running the farm. However, all of them leave their home to Inmaculada Concepcion as part of their coming of age. “And that’s how I got free. I don’t mean just to sleepaway school …I realized that I’d just left a small cage to go into a bigger one, the size of our whole country” (13).

Minerva said this when she entered the school and befriending Sinita, who was one of her inspirations in leading the rebellion. Patria attended the school to become a nun and strengthen her faith. However, she ended up conflicting with herself about having someone, besides God, to love. “There was a struggle, but no one could tell. They rambled over my growing body…I tried reining them in, but they broke loose, night after night” (47). She was told by the nuns at the school to listen to His calling and she chose flesh of spirit by marrying the one she fell in love with at first sight, Pedrito Gonzalez.

Inmaculada Concepcion was the first place where all four sisters discovered life outside of their secluded farm. As the Mirabels come to the new places on their journey, most of the time something occurs that alters one of the girl’s personalities. Dede was against the revolution at first and did not want to be involved with the risks her brave sisters took. However, after suffering from many losses, she decides to join her family. “They tore the house apart … It was like watching her life dismantled before her very eyes … All of it violated, broken, desecrated, destroyed” (192).

Dede witnessed her sister as she was in shock from the feeling that God had betrayed her, allowing the SIM to arrest Pedrito and Nelson. Dede, still remaining at Patria and her husband’s land, realizes that she never had a choice in joining the revolution after talking to Minerva on the phone. “Whether she joined their underground or not, her fate was bound up with the fates of her sisters …If they died, she would not want to go on living without them” (193). After the SIM destroyed Dede’s shelter, she realized that it was now her duty to save her sisters and continue on with the revolution.

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