In the Time of the Butterflies

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Minerva Character Analysis

María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes is the most outspoken and rebellious of the sisters and the first to join the movement against Trujillo. She desires freedom 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. She graduates law school but Trujillo denies her license. Minerva marries Manolo and helps start the militant resistance movement, and she becomes “Butterfly #1.” She has two children, Minou and Manolito.

Minerva Quotes in In the Time of the Butterflies

The In the Time of the Butterflies quotes below are all either spoken by Minerva or refer to Minerva. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dictatorship Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Algonquin Books edition of In the Time of the Butterflies published in 2010.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Sometimes, watching the rabbits in their pens, I’d think, I’m no different from you, poor things. One time, I opened a cage to set a half-grown doe free. I even gave her a slap to get her going.
But she wouldn’t budge! She was used to her little pen. I kept slapping her, harder each time, until she started whimpering like a scared child. I was the one hurting her, insisting she be free.
Silly bunny, I thought. You’re nothing at all like me.

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Rabbits
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Though the family's rabbits (and Minerva's thoughts about them) only appear in this passage, the rabbits are an important symbol for the novel overall. At this point (1938) Minerva still feels trapped at home, where she has to ask Papá permission to do anything, and so at first she here compares herself to the rabbits in their cage—she feels trapped and helpless just like them.

One day, however, Minerva decides to set a "half-grown doe" (a female rabbit, and so perhaps especially relatable to Minerva) free, but the rabbit is afraid to leave her pen, even when Minerva slaps her to get her to run away. Minerva then thinks about how the rabbit is actually "nothing at all like" her. Minerva would give anything to be free (whether from Papá's overprotectiveness or Trujillo's tyranny), despite the relative safety of her "cage" at this point. Thus the rabbits more come to symbolize many of the Dominican people—trapped in the "cage" of Trujillo's police state, but also afraid to leave or fight against the only home they have ever known.

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And that’s how I got free. I don’t mean just going to sleepaway school on a train with a trunkful of new things. I mean in my head after I got to Inmaculada and met Sinita and saw what happened to Lina and realized that I’d just left a small cage to go into a bigger one, the size of our whole country.

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Sinita, Lina Lovatón
Related Symbols: The Rabbits
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

The family's rabbits aren't explicitly mentioned in this passage, but Minerva is still referring to her life in terms of various "cages." She "gets free" from one cage by leaving home and escaping Papá's overprotective presence, but once she learns the truth about Trujillo's dictatorship via her peers Sinita and Lina, Minerva realizes that she has only escaped one cage to "go into a bigger one." With this, Alvarez introduces the idea that the Dominican Republic itself is a kind of "big cage" under Trujillo's rule—no one is truly free, even if they aren't literally imprisoned by the oppressive regime. At the same time, this first level of liberation—mental liberation—is crucial for Minerva, and starts her on the path towards active political resistance and revolution.

When we got to school that fall, we were issued new history textbooks with a picture of you-know-who embossed on the cover so even a blind person could tell who the lies were about. Our history now followed the plot of the Bible. We Dominicans had been waiting for centuries for the arrival of our Lord Trujillo on the scene. It was pretty disgusting.
“All through nature there is a feeling ecstasy. A strange otherworldly light suffuses the house smelling of labor and sanctity. The 24th of October in 1891. God’s glory made flesh in a miracle. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo has been born!”

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point, Minerva has few illusions left about the true nature of Trujillo's regime. So when she goes to school and receives new textbooks with Trujillo's face on the cover, she describes them in witheringly sarcastic terms—the propaganda here seems so blatant as to be almost humorous. Here we also see how Trujillo's "cult of personality" takes on distinctly religious language, as the dictator elevates himself to the level of a god, "God's glory made flesh in a miracle." The Dominican Republic is a primarily Catholic nation at this point, and in the textbooks that Minerva is describing here Trujillo highjacks the language of Catholicism (particularly describing the birth of Jesus, the "Word made flesh") in order to build himself up as a holy figure and make his birth the supposed high point of all Dominican history.

Chapter 4 Quotes

Minerva could tell. One day, we were lying side by side on the hammock strung just outside the galería. She must have caught me gazing at our picture of the Good Shepherd, talking to his lambs. Beside him hung the required portrait of El Jefe, touched up to make him look better than he was. “They’re a pair, aren’t they?” she noted.
That moment, I understood her hatred. My family had not been personally hurt by Trujillo, just as before losing my baby, Jesus had not taken anything away from me. But others had been suffering great losses…
I had heard, but I had not believed. Snug in my heart, fondling my pearl, I had ignored their cries of desolation. How could our loving, all-powerful Father allow us to suffer so? I looked up, challenging Him. And the two faces had merged!

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Minerva, Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Patria has been losing her previously strong faith after giving birth to a stillborn baby. She has also been influenced by Minerva, who at this point is almost entirely nonreligious, as well as growing increasingly radical in her resistance against Trujillo. Patria has kept her doubts about Christianity to herself so far, but in this passage it seems that Minerva has been able to read her older sister's mind—she "could tell."

This passage also brings up the symbol of Trujillo's portrait again, and particularly its proximity to the picture of Jesus in the Mirabal family's home. Patria explicitly connects Trujillo to God here, and sees that her own disillusionment with Christianity reflects Minerva's disillusionment with Trujillo. Patria is now able to recognize that because Trujillo's regime has not hurt her directly, she has been able to ignore others' "cries of desolation." But now that she is willing to "challenge" God for allowing such suffering, she also seems more willing to challenge Trujillo himself—and indeed, when she looks up, the faces of Trujillo and Jesus have merged, as if they are both different aspects of an oppressive, omniscient, patriarchal force.

Chapter 5 Quotes

Dedé could only shake her head. She didn’t really know Lío was a communist, a subversive, all the other awful things the editorial had called him. She had never known an enemy of state before. She had assumed such people would be self-serving and wicked, low-class criminals. But Lío was a fine young man with lofty ideals and a compassionate heart. Enemy of state? Why then, Minerva was an enemy of state. And if she, Dedé, thought long and hard about what was right and wrong, she would no doubt be an enemy of state as well.
“I didn’t know,” she said again. What she meant was she didn’t understand until that moment that they were really living – as Minerva liked to say – in a police state.

Related Characters: Dedé (speaker), Minerva, Virgilio Morales (Lío)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Dedé has just read a newspaper article about a protest to her Mamá, and the article lists Virgilio Morales as a dangerous Communist and "enemy of the state." Dedé and Mamá are both shocked, as they had previously agreed with most of Lío's political ideas, but they have also been taught that all Communists are treacherous and evil. Dedé has even been in love with Lío, though she has always refrained from acting on her feelings (unlike Minerva). Furthermore, Dedé recognizes that if Lío is an "enemy of the state," then so is Minerva.

This is an important moment, one of several where Dedé is confronted with the truth—the fact that she really is living in a "police state," and that those people the government portrays as evil are often just trying to do what's right—and she doesn't yet know how to react. Dedé recognizes that if she "thought long and hard about what was right and wrong" she would probably reach the same conclusions as Minerva and Lío, but she is unwilling to even make this choice to fully confront reality. In hindsight, Dedé sees this as a sign of her cowardice, but it is also a very common mindset (getting used to one's "cage"), particularly for members of a populace living under a dictator or other corrupt power.

Chapter 6 Quotes

The floor remains empty as it must until El Jefe has danced the first dance.

He rises from his chair, and I am so sure he is going to ask me that I feel a twinge of disappointment when he turns instead to the wife of the Spanish ambassador. Lío’s words of warning wash over me. This regime is seductive. How else would a whole nation fall prey to this little man?

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Rafael Trujillo, Virgilio Morales (Lío)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

One of Alvarez's projects in her novel is examining the nature of dictatorship and a "cult of personality"—essentially exploring how a "whole nation fall[s] prey" to a "little man" like Trujillo, as Minerva says here. There is a seductiveness to authoritarianism, Alvarez suggests. In some ways it is easier to give up one's autonomy to a "father figure," no matter how corrupt or cruel he may be, than to accept one's own independence and all the risks that it entails.

In this passage, most of the Mirabal family has been invited to a party thrown by Trujillo himself, with the implication that Trujillo has taken a romantic interest in Minerva. Minerva hates Trujillo, but she can't help feeling slighted when he doesn't choose her as his first dancing partner. Minerva isn't attracted to Trujillo, but she does want him to respect her and at least think about her—she wants him to see her as a worthy enemy, someone to be reckoned with.

“I hope you will reconsider his offer. I’m sure General Fiallo would agree” – General Fiallo is already nodding before any mention has been made of what he is agreeing to – “that a private conference with El Jefe would be the quickest, most effective way to end all this nonsense.”
Sí, sí, sí,” General Fiallo agrees.
Don Manuel continues. “I would like to bring you personally to him tonight at his suite at El Jaragua. Bypass all this red tape.” He gestures towards the general, who smiles inanely at his own put-down.
I stare at Manuel de Moya as if pinning him to the wall. “I’d sooner jump out that window than be forced to do something against my honor.”

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Manuel de Moya (speaker)
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

Papá has been arrested because of Minerva's resistance to Trujillo's sexual advances. In this passage, Manuel de Moya, Trujillo's "secretary of state" (whose real job is finding pretty girls for Trujillo), visits Minerva and essentially tells her that Papá will be immediately freed if Minerva will just consent to a "private conference" with Trujillo in his bedroom. This quote shows Minerva's reckless courage, as well as the subservient and manipulative nature of Trujillo's surrogates.

When she was actually dancing with Trujillo, Minerva was to some degree seduced by his presence and forced to compromise her ideals in speaking with him. But as is shown here, Minerva has now reinforced her courage and refuses to give an inch of ground to Trujillo's demands—she would rather "jump out [the] window" than give in to him. Though this means continued imprisonment for Papá, and the start of a kind of "house arrest" for Mamá and Minerva herself, Minerva has now firmly taken a stand—she is Trujillo's enemy, and an equal and worthy rival even to the dictator himself.

Chapter 7 Quotes

There was a broadcast of a speech by this man Fidel, who is trying to overturn their dictator over in Cuba. Minerva has big parts memorized. Now, instead of her poetry, she’s always reciting, Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me!
I am so hoping that now that Minerva has found a special someone, she’ll setttle down. I mean, I agree with her ideas and everything. I think people should be kind to each other and share what they have. But never in a million years would I take up a gun and force people to give up being mean.

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker), Mate (speaker)
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrative returns to Mate's perspective here, as again she examines Minerva's behavior, both fearing for and idolizing her older sister. Minerva has grown even more radical by now, inspired by Fidel Castro's attempt to overthrow Batista, the corrupt dictator of Cuba at the time. Mate, for her part, seems to agree with Minerva's views, but also lacks the conviction to attempt to act on them. She wants people to "be kind to each other," but also sees that to actually force this to happen would involve "taking up a gun"—something she is still unwilling to do (and which even seems counterintuitive to her).

Here Alvarez juxtaposes the personal with the political, as Mate is growing more revolutionary herself, but is still primarily concerned with boys and romance. Mate then projects this worldview onto Minerva, and hopes that a man (Manolo) will make Minerva "settle down."

I admit that for me love goes deeper than the struggle, or maybe what I mean is, love is the deeper struggle. I would never be able to give up Leandro to some higher ideal the way I feel Minerva and Manolo would each other if they had to make the supreme sacrifice. And so last night, it touched me, Oh so deeply, to hear him say it was the same for him, too.

Related Characters: Mate (speaker), Minerva, Manolo Tavarez Justo, Leandro Guzman (Palomino)
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

Mate has now become a revolutionary as well, following in Minerva's footsteps and becoming "Butterfly #2" in the resistance group. Yet Mate is still very much her own person, and here she admits that she still leans more towards romance than revolution. She assumes that Minerva and Manolo would be willing to give each other up for the "struggle," but Mate feels that she could never sacrifice Leandro, even for a higher ideal (and she is overjoyed to hear that he feels the same way). Thus this passage shows a different kind of bravery, one that is not the straightforward, reckless courage often portrayed in idealized revolutionaries. Instead it is a courage in love as well as politics, and in struggling on whatever one's "deeper struggle" might be.

Here again Alvarez shows how the butterflies were not ideals or one-dimensional heroes, but real women with real complicated emotions and reservations about their actions.

Chapter 9 Quotes

“The husbands were in prison,” she adds, for the woman’s face registers surprise at this change of address. “All except Jaimito.”
“How lucky,” her guest notes.
“It wasn’t luck,” Dedé says right out. “It was because he didn’t get directly involved.”
“And you?”
Dedé shakes her head. “Back in those days, we women followed our husbands.” Such a silly excuse. After all, look at Minerva. “Let’s put it this way,” Dedé adds. “I followed my husband. I didn’t get involved.”

Related Characters: Dedé (speaker), The Interview Woman (speaker), Minerva, Manolo Tavarez Justo, Leandro Guzman (Palomino)
Page Number: 171-172
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Dedé is explaining herself to the interview woman. Dedé continues to use the same excuses to explain her refusal to become a "butterfly," though she knows how hollow these excuses sound in light of all that has happened. Though Dedé parrots the traditional idea that "we women followed our husbands," she then immediately compares herself to Minerva, and acknowledges that there were certainly many women who didn't do this—it's just an excuse for Dedé to try and ease some of her guilt. While she recognizes the essential emptiness of her excuse (that she had no choice, and couldn't go against Jaimito's wishes), Dedé also seems to see that the nature of this explanation just reinforces the same sexism and complacency her sisters were fighting against.

Chapter 11 Quotes

It happens here all the time. Every day and night there’s at least one breakdown – someone loses control and starts to scream or sob or moan. Minerva says it’s better letting yourself go – not that she ever does. The alternative is freezing yourself up, never showing what you’re feeling, never letting on what you’re thinking… Then one day, you’re out of here, free, only to discover you’ve locked yourself up and thrown away the key somewhere too deep inside your heart to fish it out.

Related Characters: Mate (speaker), Minerva
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point in the book, Mate and Minerva are both in prison, and dealing with all the struggles and suffering that come with their situation. As we only learn about this period from Mate's point of view, we again see Minerva as her younger sister sees her—someone almost impossibly strong, courageous, and firm in her convictions. In the case of this passage, however, it becomes clear that Minerva isn't just a superhuman revolutionary leader—she also understands the psychological pressures the other women are undergoing, and thus becomes an advocate for mental freedom even within the confines of the prison itself. As both Minerva and Mate suggest here, there is a bravery not just in "sucking it up" but also in "letting it out"—adding further nuance to Alvarez's exploration of the different kinds of courage.

Where does that sister of mine get her crazy courage?
As she was being marched down the hall, a voice from one of the cells they passed called out, Mariposa does not belong to herself alone. She belongs to Quisqueya! Then everyone was beating on the bars, calling out, ¡Viva la Mariposa! Tears came to my eyes. Something big and powerful spread its wings inside me.
Courage, I told myself. And this time, I felt it.

Related Characters: Mate (speaker), Minerva
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Mate again describes Minerva's "crazy courage," and we also see the legend that is already growing around the sisters. Minerva is labeled "Mariposa" (butterfly) by the other prisoners, and becomes a larger-than-life figure in their defiant chant—someone who "does not belong to herself alone," but stands for all of "Quisqueya" (in this case, another name for the Dominican Republic itself).

We don't see Minerva's perspective here, and so can't tell if she really is feeling the "crazy courage" Mate projects onto her, but we do see Mate becoming a "butterfly" herself in this inspiring moment. She feels "wings" spreading out inside of her, a kind of liberation and bravery that she finds even in her imprisonment. As is shown throughout the book, for all of the sisters courage is often more an act of will than a feeling, but in this moment, Mate has the good fortune to actually feel it, inspired by Minerva's actions and the prisoners' call to arms.

Chapter 12 Quotes

Even in church during the privacy of Holy Communion, Father Gabriel bent down and whispered, ¡Viva la Mariposa!
My months in prison have elevated me to superhuman status. It would hardly have been seemly for someone who had challenged our dictator to suddenly succumb to a nervous attack at the communion rail.
I hid my anxieties and gave everyone a bright smile. If they had only known how frail was their iron-will heroine. How much it took to put on that hardest of all performances, being my old self again.

Related Characters: Minerva (speaker)
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:

Minerva and Mate have been released from prison and confined to house arrest. Ironically, Minerva now finds it harder to be brave and keep up her persona outside of prison—she no longer has something concrete and direct to struggle against, and so instead is faced with the subtler but arguably more difficult task of just maintaining a facade of strength and conviction. She is a human being, but must try to live up to her public role as a symbol.

We have seen Minerva in prison from Mate's point of view, but now that we get Minerva's narration her many doubts and internal weaknesses are revealed. This, again, is a crucial part of Alvarez's overall project in the book—showing the butterflies not as pure heroines or idealized revolutionaries, but as real, flawed women struggling to do what is right.

I will never forget the terror on Dedé’s face. How she reached for my hand. How, when we were asked to identify ourselves, what she said was – I will never forget this – she said, “My name is Minerva Mirabal.”

Related Characters: Dedé (speaker), Minerva (speaker)
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:

While driving together one day, Minerva (still under house arrest) and Dedé are stopped by guards. When they are forced to get out of the car, Dedé tells the guards that she is Minerva Mirabal—clearly trying to protect her sister, who would be the obvious target of any political violence on the part of the regime.

In this touching moment Minerva realizes how brave Dedé is being, even though she is supposedly the "cowardly" sister who refused to become a butterfly. Dedé was unable to find the particular kind of courage necessary to leave Jaimito or fight Trujillo directly, but she clearly has a huge amount of bravery when it comes to defending and protecting her family.

Patria closed her purse with a decisive snap. “Let’s just go.”
We moved quickly now towards the Jeep, hurrying as if we had to catch up with that truck. I don’t know quite how to say this, but it was as if we were girls again, walking through the dark part of the yard, a little afraid, a little excited by our fears, anticipating the lighted house just around the bend –
That’s the way I felt as we started up the first mountain.

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Minerva (speaker)
Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage describes the moment before the butterflies' assassination—arguably the book's climax, but also an event Alvarez doesn't describe. The language of this scene, which is ironically tragic in its optimistic imagery, calls back to the first memory of the book, with the sisters as little girls in the dark yard of their house, as yet mostly untroubled by dictators, revolutions, and violence. The story thus comes full circle, and Alvarez lingers on the sisters' final moments before their tragic end.

As she emphasizes the mingling of fear and excitement in this passage, Alvarez again makes the point that the butterflies were ordinary women—once just girls "walking through the dark part of the yard"—who were not superhumanly brave or strong, but who simply made the choice to do extraordinary things.

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Minerva Character Timeline in In the Time of the Butterflies

The timeline below shows where the character Minerva appears in In the Time of the Butterflies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Dedé, 1994 and circa 1943
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...and their most general traits, as she always does around “mythologizers of her sisters” – Minerva was high-minded and moral, María Teresa was young and girlish, and Patria was very religious. (full context)
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...future, but Mamá stops Papá, saying that their priest, Padre Ignacio, disapproves of fortune telling. Minerva defends Papá while critiquing Christianity. (full context)
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Minerva has been wanting to go to law school, and María Teresa says that she hopes... (full context)
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...was just a joke, and Mamá stopped him before he could get to Patria and Minerva. Dedé feels a chill, as if this happy time is over and “the future is... (full context)
Chapter 2: Minerva, 1938, 1941, 1944
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(Complications: 1938) The story is now told from Minerva’s point of view. Minerva wonders how Papá was ever convinced to send the girls away... (full context)
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...that one sister needs to stay home and help with the store. He clearly wants Minerva to volunteer, but she stays silent. Dedé volunteers. (full context)
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Minerva says that this is how she finally “got free.” It wasn’t just the freedom of... (full context)
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When Minerva first goes off to school she befriends a girl named Sinita, who looks poorer and... (full context)
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Minerva notes how few possessions Sinita brings to school. The other girls start to make fun... (full context)
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Sor Milagros arranges the bunks in alphabetical order. Minerva asks if she can bunk with Sinita, and Sor Milagros agrees. Minerva then says that... (full context)
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...Sor Milagros gives the girls a vague lesson about menstruation. Sinita is confused and asks Minerva about it afterward. Minerva has already learned all about menstruation from Patria, so she explains... (full context)
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Sinita delays telling this secret for a few weeks. Minerva and Sinita become close friends with two other girls, Lourdes and Elsa. One night Sinita... (full context)
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...Trujillo, but then they turned against him when “they saw he was doing bad things.” Minerva is shocked at this idea, and compares Trujillo doing bad things to learning that “Jesus... (full context)
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Minerva asks what “bad things” Trujillo was doing, and Sinita explains his rise to power. She... (full context)
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Minerva asks why someone didn’t tell Trujillo that this wasn’t right, but Sinita says that people... (full context)
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Minerva is traumatized by this, and she sleeps very little that night. When she wakes up... (full context)
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(¡Pobrecita!: 1941) Minerva describes how she is directly affected by Trujillo three years later. At school she and... (full context)
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...Trujillo they all start falling in love with him through Lina – except for Sinita. Minerva chooses to forget Sinita’s story of years before. When Lina turns seventeen Trujillo throws her... (full context)
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...that she will get her degree in absentia, but they can’t explain why. That summer Minerva is driving by a mansion with Papá, and he says that “one of Trujillo’s girlfriends”... (full context)
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The next year at school Minerva hears the rest of the story. Lina got pregnant, and Trujillo’s wife attacked her. Trujillo... (full context)
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Minerva says that the whole country is “putting on a big loyalty performance” at this point.... (full context)
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...there to celebrate the “Benefactor” (Trujillo), where the girls are supposed to put on performances. Minerva, Sinita, Elsa, and Lourdes make a symbolic play about Liberty and Glory freeing the enslaved... (full context)
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On the night of the contest Minerva’s team wins, and they are later sent to perform their skit for Trujillo on his... (full context)
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...the capital and warns them to act like “jewels” and impress Trujillo. They arrive and Minerva sees Trujillo for the first time. He looks small in his big golden armchair, and... (full context)
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The performance begins, and Minerva is so nervous she is shaking. The skit goes smoothly, until the part where Sinita... (full context)
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Minerva tries to cover for Sinita, saying that it was part of the play, but Ramfis... (full context)
Chapter 3: This little book belongs to María Teresa, 1945 to 1946
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...about how her friends Daysi and Lidia have been mean to her. She often asks Minerva for advice, as they are both now at the same school. María Teresa says that... (full context)
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...is excited to see her family. Her nickname at home is “Mate.” She writes about Minerva making Daysi and Lidia be nicer, and Minerva telling her about menstruation and sex. One... (full context)
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...day the family goes shopping in Santiago, and María Teresa gets new shoes. She compliments Minerva for being so smart and good at arguing. María Teresa talks about her cousin Berto,... (full context)
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María Teresa describes a “funny little moment” when an uncle mentioned Benefactor’s Day, and Minerva said they should go celebrate at the cemetery. The room went silent, but María Teresa... (full context)
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One day María Teresa is shocked to hear that Minerva has been sneaking out of school. María Teresa is called before a nun, but she... (full context)
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María Teresa asks why Minerva would do such a thing, and Minerva says that she wants María Teresa to grow... (full context)
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María Teresa gushes about letters she gets from her cousin Berto. She then describes Minerva’s “rude” new friend Hilda who now hangs around the school a lot. Hilda goes to... (full context)
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Two months later guards start visiting the school, asking for Hilda. Minerva tells María Teresa that Hilda had suddenly appeared asking for a place to hide, and... (full context)
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Minerva graduates and she and María Teresa go home for the summer. Patria has been pregnant,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Patria, 1946
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...She has a son, Nelson, and then a daughter, Noris. She starts to worry about Minerva, who has been speaking out more openly against Trujillo. Patria tries to reason with her,... (full context)
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Minerva stops going to church unless Mamá forces her to. Minerva says that some of the... (full context)
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Patria keeps up her facade, but Minerva recognizes that she has lost her faith. One day she notes Patria staring at the... (full context)
Chapter 5: Dedé, 1994 and 1948
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...up her shrine down the road. Minou now consults her to “talk” to her mother, Minerva. Recently Minou had mentioned Minerva’s old friend Virgilio Morales. Dedé knows where he lives, but... (full context)
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...man who was often thrown out of the country. The woman implies that he was Minerva’s “special friend,” but Dedé defensively says that he was her friend too. She recognizes that... (full context)
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The story then jumps to 1948 in Dedé’s memory. Dedé and Minerva are at their father’s store, counting up an inventory. Dedé is always very precise in... (full context)
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...an intellectual-looking young man. He is introduced as Virgilio Morales, a student at the university. Minerva immediately engages him in conversation (they both know Elsa and Sinita, who are at the... (full context)
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Minerva suggests that they all go play volleyball and then go swimming. First she has to... (full context)
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...– something for men.” Dedé joins Jaimito’s team, while on the other side Lío and Minerva are talking intently. They then shift teams so that it is women against men. Night... (full context)
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Mamá gets angry at Minerva for this, and Minerva points out that Mamá had agreed with Virgilio’s ideas before she... (full context)
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After that Dedé starts paying closer attention to the newspapers. She decides to provide Minerva with an alibi when she is meeting Lío. Minerva “chaperones” Dedé and Jaimito when they... (full context)
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...they attended as a pacifying show of support for Trujillo. After the meeting Jaimito asks Minerva if Lío has asked her to go into hiding with him. Minerva says he hasn’t,... (full context)
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After Minerva leaves, Dedé and Jaimito sneak out to the car and Jaimito proposes to her. Just... (full context)
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Dedé then goes inside and reads Lío’s letter, which is inviting Minerva to go into hiding with him. Dedé tells herself that she cannot expose her sister... (full context)
Chapter 6: Minerva, 1949
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(What do you want, Minerva Mirabal?: Summer) Minerva narrates again, and she describes how she never paid much attention to... (full context)
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One afternoon while she is driving around, Minerva sees Papá’s car parked outside of a campesino’s house. Minerva starts driving back by this... (full context)
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Minerva says that she didn’t know what she wanted during those years at home, and she... (full context)
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One day Minerva picks the lock of Papá’s armoire while he is away. Inside she finds four letters... (full context)
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Minerva purposefully leaves the armoire door open, and then she drives off and finds Papá at... (full context)
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...invited to a party thrown by Trujillo himself, and there is a special request that Minerva appear as well. Mamá is frightened by this, as she worries that Trujillo now desires... (full context)
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A week before the party, Minerva invites herself along when Papá is running “errands.” He promises he isn’t involved with the... (full context)
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On the drive back home Minerva asks Papá why he first cheated, and he responds with “things a man does.” He... (full context)
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...They are afraid that their lateness will make Trujillo angry. It is raining hard, and Minerva has a theory that the old Mayan storm god always “acts up” around Discovery Day... (full context)
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...well, so the Mirabals are escorted inside without incident. Everyone sits down, but Manuel tells Minerva that she has been invited to sit at El Jefe’s table. Dedé silently reminds Minerva... (full context)
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Trujillo immediately receives a new medal from the Spanish ambassador. Minerva thinks of the rumor that as a child, El Jefe put bottle caps across his... (full context)
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After dinner there is dancing, and Minerva can’t help feeling disappointed that Trujillo doesn’t invite her for his first dance. She reminds... (full context)
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Don Manuel is a good dancer, and Minerva suddenly finds herself led over to Trujillo. He takes her hand and Minerva gets very... (full context)
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...don’t belong at the university these days, as it is full of “communists and agitators.” Minerva accidentally lets Virgilio’s name slip, and Trujillo gets suspicious. Minerva lies and says she doesn’t... (full context)
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Trujillo returns to his flirtatious mood, and he starts pulling Minerva towards him aggressively. He thrusts at her “in a vulgar way” and Minerva slaps him.... (full context)
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The next morning two guards drive up and demand that Papá and Minerva come with them. They take the family to the governor’s palace, where the governor informs... (full context)
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Minerva and Mamá later drive to the capital to appeal on Papá’s behalf. They discover that... (full context)
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The next morning armed guards wake up Minerva and take her away for questioning. She is returned to Police Headquarters, where she is... (full context)
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The general speaks kindly to Minerva, but then brings out Lío’s letters from her purse. Minerva admits that she knows Lío,... (full context)
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Manuel de Moya then enters and makes small talk with the general and Minerva. He repeats the governor’s offer, that Minerva could “end all this nonsense” with a “private... (full context)
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Mamá and Minerva are basically imprisoned after this, as they aren’t allowed to leave their hotel. Three weeks... (full context)
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Trujillo requests that Minerva “check in” every week with the governor, and Minerva responds by reminding him of her... (full context)
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...rest of the family drives home. It is downpouring on every corner of the island. Minerva feels fatalistic, like “something has started none of us can stop.” (full context)
Chapter 7: María Teresa, 1953 to 1958
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...that his mistress and illegitimate daughters were at the funeral too. She can’t believe that Minerva invited them. Mate declares that she hates all men. Mate writes about her mourning for... (full context)
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...informing Trujillo of Papá’s death and thanking him for his “beneficent protection.” Mate reveals that Minerva is in law school now. She got in after Mate wrote a speech for her... (full context)
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...and Papá’s in her right. Mate writes down some love poetry and discusses it with Minerva, who suggests that “serious ambitions of the mind” are more important than love. (full context)
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...confesses that she kissed Berto on the lips for the first time. She talks to Minerva about it, and Minerva says she has met a special man at law school. He... (full context)
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A few weeks later Minerva comes home with her boyfriend Manolo (who has broken off his engagement). Mate has been... (full context)
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...the menu of what she is making for the Day of Lovers (Valentine’s Day) menu. Minerva and Manolo arrive. Mate likes Manolo because he likes her food, and he is also... (full context)
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...with Manolo’s face in the coffin instead. She starts to worry about Manolo cheating on Minerva because of this. Mate talks to her priest about this, and he warns her to... (full context)
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...writes out the gifts she got from different people, including a book of poetry from Minerva. Mate declares that she is going to the university with Minerva in the fall, and... (full context)
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...are mentioned, but she says that the Mirabals have been fine with the regime since Minerva’s speech and Mamá’s letter. Mate describes the first day of class. All the students have... (full context)
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Mate tries to study law like Minerva, but then gives it up and takes “Philosophy and Letters” instead. Mate goes walking with... (full context)
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(1955) More than a year has passed since the last entry. It is Minerva’s wedding day, and she is marrying Manolo. Minerva is very happy, but Mate is slightly... (full context)
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...later Mate vaguely describes a march for the World’s Fair opening ceremony at the capital. Minerva participates even though she is now pregnant. Mate describes Angelita, Trujillo’s daughter, who presides over... (full context)
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(1956) Many months later Mate is writing a speech accepting her award as “Miss University.” Minerva’s baby Minou is crying in the background. Minerva makes sure that Mate mentions “you-know-who” early... (full context)
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(1957) More than a year later Mate is feeling lonely, as Minerva is about to graduate and move to Monte Cristi with Manolo. The next day Minerva... (full context)
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The next day Minerva and Manolo decide to take Mate with them to their new house. The drive is... (full context)
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A few days pass with Manolo and Minerva arguing often and Manolo disappearing for long periods. One night Minerva starts crying, and admits... (full context)
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The next morning Mate returns to school, but on the way she talks to Minerva and Manolo about their movement. They explain the national underground forming, which they are leaders... (full context)
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...important to her than the struggle, or is perhaps the “deeper struggle.” She feels that Minerva and Manolo could give each other up for a cause, but Mate could never give... (full context)
Chapter 8: Patria, 1959
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...“rock” of his family’s ancestral farm. Her sisters, by contrast, seem to live on sand. Minerva and Manolo live in a “little nothing house,” while Mate and Leandro are renters. Dedé... (full context)
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One night Minerva, Manolo, Leandro, and Nelson appear and wake up Patria and Pedrito. They are all drunk... (full context)
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...especially worried about Nelson, as he hangs around with Manolo and Leandro and keeps visiting Minerva and Mate. Mate now has a baby named Jacqueline, and Minerva has a new baby... (full context)
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...vision of the Virgin, but she has noticed that Mate has given up faith like Minerva. Instead of consoling Patria, Padre de Jesús tells her that he is also lost, and... (full context)
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...a little braver, “inching towards courage” and helping her sisters with little things. One day Minerva brings her baby Manolito and asks Patria to watch him, as Minerva will be on... (full context)
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Minerva and her group start visiting more often, and Patria lets them use her land for... (full context)
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...asks if Patria knows others who would like to join, and Patria is sure that Minerva and her group will. Padre de Jesús comments on how much Patria has changed, and... (full context)
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The next week Patria has given birth to her baby, and she comes out when Minerva and her group are having their meeting. She invites them all inside for the first... (full context)
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When he first learns that Patria invited Minerva’s group to meet in the house, Pedrito yells at Patria for the first time in... (full context)
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After that Patria’s house becomes the “motherhouse of the movement.” Minerva and Manolo’s group merges with the ACC, and Manolo becomes president after Minerva refuses to... (full context)
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...to play with a wooden gun, and in the chair where Patria nursed her babies Minerva now checks the viewfinders of rifles. Noris is sent off to live with Mamá, and... (full context)
Chapter 9: Dedé, 1994 and 1960
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Back in the present, night starts to fall, and Dedé quotes some poetry that Minerva used to recite when her husband was in jail. Dedé says that all the sisters’... (full context)
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...becomes ecstatic, as she has now met both the daughter and sister of the famous Minerva. Finally the woman bids them farewell and leaves. (full context)
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...Patria had come to Dedé asking to bury some boxes, and Dedé had suspected that Minerva put her up to it. Patria looked disappointed when Dedé said she had to ask... (full context)
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...for a while, and finally Mate tells Dedé that something big is going to happen. Minerva says “the goat is going to die” sometime in the next three weeks. The sisters... (full context)
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...out the arguments she will use, and she thinks about her lingering affection for Lío. Minerva tells her that he is still alive, and to listen to a certain forbidden radio... (full context)
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...for a meeting, but Dedé frantically says she needs to get a ride. Manolo and Minerva drive her, and on the way she explains. Dedé confesses that she wishes she was... (full context)
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They reach Jaimito’s mother’s house and Jaimito meets them, looking angry. Dedé feels brave with Minerva by her side, and she demands to see her children. The boys and Doña Leia... (full context)
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Jaimito accuses Dedé of joining Minerva’s group, but Manolo assures him that she has never been to a meeting. Jaimito’s anger... (full context)
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A week later the SIM starts rounding up members of Minerva’s group. Leandro is arrested first. The family gathers at Mamá’s house, and Mate tearfully explains... (full context)
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...Mirabals. Dedé gets some sedatives from her elderly neighbor and gives everyone some. She calls Minerva, and when Dedé first hears her voice she recognizes that no matter what choice she... (full context)
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Minerva confirms that Manolo was arrested the night before. Minerva sounds anxious but firm, and she... (full context)
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...and Jaimito return home, where Mamá is wailing and praying – she has learned of Minerva’s arrest because the SIM came to confiscate her car. Dedé suggests they go inside, as... (full context)
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...this exercise of reliving a happy memory actually came much later – it was something Minerva taught her after she got out of prison. Dedé remembers frantically worrying about Minerva and... (full context)
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Minerva had refused to hole up though, as she thought that Trujillo would never “murder a... (full context)
Chapter 11: María Teresa, March to August 1960
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Mate, Minerva, and the other female “politicals” are all locked up with some “nonpoliticals” – thieves, prostitutes,... (full context)
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...guards and various contraband being traded. Mate has been taken downstairs for questioning twice, but Minerva and Sina (Minerva’s old friend) have been taken many times. Ramfis Trujillo came to question... (full context)
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Mate wakes up crying every morning, but Minerva insists on having a “little school” every day just like Castro supposedly did in prison.... (full context)
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Dinorah is a nonpolitical prisoner who is always mean and emotionless, though Minerva says she is “a victim of our corrupt system.” Minerva insists on sharing all the... (full context)
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...She learns that Leandro is not in the same prison, and she worries about him. Minerva encourages her to keep up her morale, and insists that they reject the pardon they... (full context)
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...sign of solidarity, but then the guards decide to break up the supposed “Crucifix Plot.” Minerva refuses to give her crucifix up, and she attacks the guards when they try to... (full context)
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On Easter Sunday Minerva is released from solitary. Mate hasn’t talked about her torture to anyone but Magdalena. Finally... (full context)
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Twenty-five days later Mate and Minerva are taken to the courthouse for their “joke of a trial.” They are both given... (full context)
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...human rights violations. The guards are all worried about this, while the politicals are excited. Minerva warns Mate to describe her torture experience to the OAS and not give in to... (full context)
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...rights violations to the OAS. Mate complains about Dinorah being selfish and mean, and even Minerva doesn’t defend her anymore. (full context)
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The OAS committee is coming soon, and Minerva talks strategy with Mate, as Mate is the one chosen to be interviewed. Minerva says... (full context)
Chapter 12: Minerva, August to November 25, 1960
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(House Arrest: August and September) Minerva is the narrator again, beginning just after her release from prison. All her life she... (full context)
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At first it is hard for Minerva to adjust to life at home after spending so much time in solitary confinement. She... (full context)
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...week – once to visit their husbands in prison and once to go to church. Minerva is a celebrity now, and even the priest whispers “Viva la Mariposa!” to her as... (full context)
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Minerva is especially disturbed by Peña’s visits, and she tries to hide from him until Mamá... (full context)
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After Peña leaves the sisters argue about the letter – Minerva doesn’t want to do it, but eventually she is convinced by the other sisters. Mate... (full context)
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Minerva talks about her old friend Elsa, who had married a journalist assigned to the National... (full context)
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...off relations with the Dominican Republic. Elsa is excited about this, and she talks to Minerva about Trujillo’s overthrow. Elsa wants to reminisce, but she retells the story of their school... (full context)
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...looks less excited than the rest. Some of his teeth are broken off. He asks Minerva for information about the resistance, but she has no news to give him, as she... (full context)
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Minerva believes that Trujillo will fall soon, as almost everyone has turned against him now, but... (full context)
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When the sisters finally get to visit their husbands again, Manolo tells Minerva that “it’s over.” Many male prisoners have been killed lately, and Manolo has no hope... (full context)
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...nervous too when they arrive, but they pretend that they are there about their “cycles.” Minerva talks in code to Delia, and is shocked to hear that the old resistance cells... (full context)
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...gets angry at them for leaving without his permission, but he eventually agrees to let Minerva see Dr. Viñas, who is a urologist and not known as a political. Patria and... (full context)
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...Jefe. Their only ideal is money, so the Americans feel that they can control them. Minerva is displeased at this solution, but Viñas says all she can do is keep up... (full context)
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Minerva visits Manolo and tells him the news, and he too is worried about the Americans... (full context)
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Minerva and Dedé take the trip to go retrieve Minerva’s possessions from her property. Minerva is... (full context)
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...An official explains that they need an escort, for when the local townspeople heard that Minerva Mirabal was coming they planned “some sort of commotion.” The man asks which one is... (full context)
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After that they reach Minerva’s house without trouble, and gather up her things. It is heartbreaking for her to go... (full context)
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When she leaves the house, Minerva sees over a hundred people dressed in black in the town square. Suddenly trucks of... (full context)
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...SIM headquarters, and Peña asks to see them. He makes a lewd proposition that infuriates Minerva, but Patria defuses the situation. Peña informs them that their husbands are being transferred from... (full context)
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(Talk of the people, Voice of God: November 25, 1960) Minerva now describes their fourth trip to visit the men in the northern prison. Rufino is... (full context)
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As they drive Minerva laments how the “butterflies” have fallen from their old dreams of fighting and revolution. Now... (full context)
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...Mamá and Dedé had warned them of the danger of all three traveling together, but Minerva had laughed off their worries. (full context)
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...warns them about going over the mountain pass today. He puts his business card in Minerva’s purse as she takes it. (full context)
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...driving, and then see Peña’s car and fear an ambush. Patria starts to pray, but Minerva tells Rufino to keep driving. To keep themselves calm the sisters methodically transfer the contents... (full context)
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They keep driving but there is no incident, and Minerva feels more optimistic. The sisters tell jokes and riddles, and finally they reach Puerto Plata,... (full context)
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On the way back they stop at a gas station and Minerva tries to call Mamá, but the line is busy. They delay and keep trying, and... (full context)
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...decide to drive on, and they feel optimistic with the truck in front of them. Minerva feels almost as if they are girls again, “a little afraid, a little excited by... (full context)
Epilogue: Dedé, 1994
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...garden and hears Minou talking to her husband on the phone. She sounds just like Minerva did. Dedé remembers her own breast cancer of years before. She starts to make a... (full context)
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...to marry, and Dedé had marveled at how her advice had totally changed from when Minerva was young. (full context)