In the Time of the Butterflies is a novel by Julia Alvarez, fictionalizing the lives of the Mirabal sisters from their personal accounts of what happened during the time. It recounts the rebellion against Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic. The main characters are the Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, Dedé, and María Teresa. The story is set when the US, after leaving the Dominican Republic in 1920, gave Trujillo the right to rule despite knowing the fact that he was a repeated rapist. Minerva who is the most independent sister begins to realize the horrible actions of Trujillo through her school friend Sinita who is a victim of this dictator, near the start of the novel. Throughout the novel, the Mirabal sisters begin to realize the injustice of Trujillo's dictatorship on the Dominican people. The butterfly becomes their symbol, which represents independence - their main goal against Trujillo's dictatorship. A common theme is the ruinous effect that dictatorship can have between a nation and its citizens, emotionally and physically. One of the focuses of the film is Trujillo's agenda to kill or eliminate the black race that occupies the 1/3 space of the Island of Hispanola, or Haiti. Over his 30 year reign, he killed 30,000 Haitians. Although the Dominican Republic (that occupies 2/3rds space of Hispanola) is 75% of mixed backgrounds. This is a direct result of colonialism's attempt to distort the ideas of beauty and acceptance within Dominican society. Another of the themes expresses the need for human rights because life is about more than just survival. The book is written in the first and third person by and about the Mirabal sisters, who tell their side of the story. It was first released in 1994 and is available in many different languages. The story was adapted into a feature film in 2001.
In a time where people were afraid to even say "Rafael Trujillo" four sisters were brave enough to join the resistance and fight against him until the end. The story of the Mirabal sisters is a story of great bravery and resistance. The Mirabal sisters stood strong and fought for their freedom until the last breath. Thus, they became known as "the Butterflies" or "Las Mariposas" which was their code name during the resistance.
The story starts out with Dede, the only surviving sister of the four, who begins to tell their story to an interviewer. Each chapter is narrated by a different sister. Throughout the book, you can see the struggle of the sisters as they fight against Trujillo and his government and as they fight for their freedom, and you can also see the struggles each sister had in her personal life. At the end, Trujillo's men ambushed their "Las Mariposas" car (the three sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Theresa, were a big part of the underground movement to overthrow Trujillo) and they were beaten to death. The book was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1995.