In the Time of the Butterflies: A Feminist Anthem
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is a novel about breaking the chains – not just from Trujillo, but from the societal idea that men should rule in a patriarchal fashion. The idea of female subordinates rising up in a fiery fashion is an age-old notion, and I believe that the true voice in Alvarez’ novel comes in this form. The subplot screams through like a banshee, especially when The Butterflies are brutally murdered without ever laying a finger on Trujillo as one may expect. So then what was the purpose of experiencing the live of The Butterflies day in and out? The answer is clear: to support a case for women everywhere to have the courage to stand up to their oppressors and gain equal footing in society. To gain insight in to this philosophy it’s critical to examine crucial plot details such as the relationship of each woman and her husband, the evolution of The Butterflies’ mentality through the course of the story, and a brief look at the history of the Dominican Republic to learn their societal norms and how Alvarez chooses to integrate these facts in to her fictional work.
The relationship of each woman and her husband are symbolic to the oppression these women face from Trujillo and the Dominican Republic. It’s no coincidence that Alvarez chose to mirror the same patriarchal structure across each of the Mirabel sisters. All four sisters: Dede, Minerva, Maria, and Patria, are subordinate (at first) to