Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies

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In the Time of the Butterflies Chapters 7-9 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 7 Summary: María Teresa, 1953 to 1958


The narrative switches to entries from another of María Teresa’s diaries and uses her nickname, “Mate.” She reveals that Papá died recently and that she now knows about his mistress. Mate is angry that Carmen and her illegitimate daughters actually attended the funeral. As a result of her father’s infidelity, Mate claims to hate all men. She writes about her mourning for her father and about a recurring dream where she is soon to be married. In the dream, she cannot seem to find her wedding dress, so she looks in Papá’s coffin. The wedding dress is inside, torn into pieces, and when she removes all the pieces she finds Papá smiling underneath. She wakes up screaming, and wakes everyone else up with her screams as well.

Mate starts consulting Fela, their servant, about her future, and asks particularly about boyfriends. At the moment, she is trying to decide between her two cousins, Berto and Raúl. Mate then copies out a letter that she and Mamá wrote to Trujillo to inform him of Papá’s death, and to thank him for his beneficent protection. She then reveals that Minerva is in law school; she was able to attend after writing and reciting a flowery speech complimenting El Jefe.

Mate also asks Fela about casting spells on people, and Fela tells her to put the person’s name in her left shoe to curse them, and to put the person’s name in her right shoe for “problems with someone you love” (121). Mate ends up putting Trujillo’s name in her left shoe and Papá’s in her right. She also writes down some love poetry and discusses it with Minerva. Minerva, however, shows her different verses by the same author that forsake love, and suggests that serious ambitions of the mind are more important than love, especially now.


María Teresa confesses that she and Berto have kissed for the first time. She talks to Minerva about it, and learns that Minerva, too, has met someone at law school. He is engaged to someone else, which Mate hates as it…

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