In the Time of the Butterflies Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'In the Time of the Butterflies' by Julia Alvarez is a novel based on the martyrdom of the Mirabel sisters in the Dominican Republic. This asset contains classroom discussion questions about this story.

In the Time of the Butterflies

How would you respond if a murderous dictator took control of our nation? In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is a historical fiction novel based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters. This family was executed for their work opposing Rafael Trujillo, the ruler of the Dominican Republic. The questions in this asset will guide classroom discussions about this novel.

Part I

  • The author alternates the narrator each chapter. Each narrator speaks about a different time period. What effect does the author gain from this structure?
  • In 1994, Dede meets with a journalist about her sisters. While waiting, she remembers a day when her father predicted that Dede would outlive the rest of the family and makes a negative comment about Trujillo that concerns the family. What do you think is being foreshadowed in this chapter? How is Dede's family and the political climate characterized by this entry?
  • When Minerva goes to boarding school, her new friend, Sinita, tells her that Trujillo has killed her uncles and brothers. Why is Minerva surprised by this information?
  • Trujillo has an affair with a 17-year-old classmate of Minerva's and impregnates her. Based on what you have learned about Trujillo, what kind of a leader do you think he is?
  • Maria Teresa becomes friends with a girl named Hilda. What are some indications that Hilda is unconventional in her community? Why is Hilda arrested?
  • Patria seems to be searching for something through religion and then through her relationship with Pedrito. What do you think she needs?

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