Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies

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In the Time of the Butterflies Major Character Analysis


Dedé Bélgica Adela Mirabal Reyes, known as Dedé, is the only one of the Mirabal sisters who refused to join the resistance movement. She is also the only sister to have survived Trujillo’s regime. Though she becomes enamored with the revolutionary Virgilio (Lío), Dedé never acts on her feelings, leaving Lío to her sister, Minerva, and marrying her non-revolutionary cousin Jaimito instead. Dedé eventually comes to agree her sisters’ politics but, although she wants to join the movement, she lacks the courage to do so. After her sisters are murdered by Trujillo’s regime, Dedé becomes an oracle of sorts for the butterflies, living in their house for the rest of her life, raising their children and telling their story to the world.


Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes is the oldest of the Mirabal sisters, and also the most religious. From an early age she wants to become a nun, but gives up on the idea when she meets Pedrito; she marries him at age sixteen. She has three children: Nelson, Noris, and Raúl Ernesto. Patria, like Dedé, originally resists the underground movement, but joins Minerva after witnessing the massacre of invasion forces while on a spiritual retreat in the mountains of Constanza. Though Patria is never imprisoned, she is murdered along with Minerva and Mate on November 25, 1960.


María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes is the most outspoken and rebellious of the sisters. She is a free thinker, and the first to join the revolutionary movement against Trujillo. She desires freedom, both from her father’s rules and then from Trujillo’s police state. Minerva encounters Trujillo in person as a young woman, when he tries to seduce her and she slaps him. She graduates law school, but is denied the license to practice law by Trujillo. Minerva marries another revolutionary, Manolo, and helps to start the militant resistance movement. She becomes “Butterfly #1.” Minerva has two children, Minou and Manolito.

María Teresa

The youngest member of the family, Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes, known as María Teresa or Mate, looks up to her older sister Minerva. As the youngest, she spends much of her time…

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