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In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

They say love moves in mysterious ways, and so it did in the novel “In the Time of Butterflies” by Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez. I have mentioned that love moves in mysterious ways in the novel because it really did. Love had managed to flourish in the story despite of the fact that the story’s setting is an unlikely situation to harbour love. Julia Alvarez had written the novel during the time of the harsh military dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. During that time, the Mirabal sisters were brutally and senselessly murdered for going against the military dictatorship.

The Mirabal sisters became Julia Alvarez’ protagonists in the story. If we are going to classify the different kinds of “love” within the novel, we would come up with terms usual in this topic, terms like Eros, agape, pragmatic love, chemical reactions of pheromones and dopamine, and an endless barrage of scientific terms all trying to explain love. This essay will not employ those technical terms in identifying the different kinds of love present in the novel. What the essay will try to do is to categorize love in terms and concepts that presumably anyone’s understanding could grasp.

There are three prevalent kinds of love in the novel “In the Time of the Butterflies,” they are, sisterly love, love for one’s country, and the common love that we know. I had selected and simplified these three “kinds” of love so that the reader could relate more to the story rather than having them scratching their heads over technical terms that require a dictionary and a lot of strenuous explanation. The sisterly love aspect is probably the most dominant and obvious of the kinds of love present in the novel.

The sisterly love aspect of the story could also be classified as love for family. Since the novel was basically about the fictionalized biography of the Mirabal sisters, it would just be either they despise or love each other. In the case of “In the Time of the Butterflies,” the Mirabal sisters had displayed a strong and unbreakable sibling bond with each other. The Mirabal sisters, in real life, were called Las Mariposas, which if translated to English would mean The Butterflies, thus the title of the novel “In the Time of the Butterflies.

” The Mirabal sisters were a family that had angered those perpetuators of the military dictatorship. With that, we could already conclude that they were in no comfortable situation. The Mirabal sisters were the target of revenge and bitterness of the antagonist leadership in the story. Just like butterflies, they were graceful and at the same time fragile. They knew this for fact but still they remained close as a family to give each other strength and courage. Even though they knew they were fragile they had shown a kind of love much stronger than steel.

They still drove to their husbands and there they were brutally shot down. Their sisterly love had kept them close together until the very end. The next kind of love will be the common love that we already know. I had chosen to name that kind of love in such manner because I believe that it is really something unexplainable in simpler concise words. “In the Time of the Butterflies” is a story full of sorrow and despair, that is because everything their love ones were sucked in the black hole of the military dictatorship.

Their country and their people were ravaged and raped off their hopes and aspirations of a peaceful country. The Mirabal Sisters knew that they are exposing and endangering themselves when they drove to see their husbands in jail. But still something drove them to do it, that is the unexplainable aspect of love, they drove to their husbands because they have to. This kind of love needs no reason, it is just what their heart and souls were longing for. The father of the Mirabal sisters was also targeted by the antagonist military dictatorship.

The leader of the antagonistic military dictatorship was also Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. The villain had seen one of the sisters, Minerva, when she was still young. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo saw how beautiful Minerva was and at that point he had already wanted her. Now that Minerva was of the right age and was a fully grown beautiful woman, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo wanted to have her. The Mirabal was then invited to a party held by Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. It was unknown to the Mirabal family are the real motives of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo for inviting them.

In the party, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo had attempted to violate Minerva. Minerva barely managed to escape the vile hands of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Minerva then slapped Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the face. This symbolic act of defiance of Minerva had angered the cruel dictator. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo had then ordered for the murder of the Mirabal sisters’ father. That is what drove Minerva to revolt against the dictatorship. It will also be added by the death of her presumably love interest in the story.

The point is that Minerva feels the need for revenge because the people that she loves were violated. She just have to do what she got to do for her loved ones, and in her case it was revenge. Minerva and her sister’s revolt to the military dictatorship now bring us to the next kind of love. And now we move to what I believe to be the kind of love that “In the Time of the Butterflies” was mostly built upon, the love for one’s own country. The Mirabal sisters are already legends of the revolution and are already national icons even before Julia Alvarez had written “In the Time of the Butterflies.

” But what Julia Alvarez did was to amplify and magnify the Mirabal sisters’ reputation by beautifully fictionalizing the history of these heroes. The Mirabal sisters, both the fictional and the real ones, had admirably stood for what they had believed in. They have done the ultimate sacrifice of selflessly offering their lives for the nation. The Mirabal sisters had exchanged comfortable living with the living conditions of being part of the revolution. They have exemplified incomparable courage even though they were women, who were back then viewed as weak and powerless.

There was an instance in the story that one of the Mirabal sisters, Dede, had exemplified admirable love for her own country. Dede was boggled with making the difficult decision of sticking to her usual routines (that includes staying with her husband) and giving up everything to join the revolution against the dictatorship. All in all, Julia Alvarez had displayed adeptness in terms of utilizing the theme of love in conveying an important message. By fictionalizing the lives of the heroic Mirabal sisters, the author had shown her own love for her country.

She had done this by doing this novel, so that people will never forget what they shouldn’t forget. If people were to forget the things that happened in the past, justice will never be served and bad guys like Rafael Leonidas Trujillo will continue to ruin all hopes and aspirations of a peaceful community. The author had designed the characters in such exquisite way that the readers will immediately fall in love with the characters. Through this, when the antagonists do something bad to the protagonists, the readers are immediately affected.

That is because they had learned to love the characters, and something was happening to the ones they love. Just like Minerva, this requires no complicated and technical terms and explanation. The readers would turn the pages continually because they already care for the Mirabal sisters. Through this device also, the readers will learn how to love their own country, be vigilant against those who want to abuse power, and love peace in all its aspects.

Work Cited

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies. Dominican Republic: Plume. 1995

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