Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes is the oldest of the Mirabal sisters and the most religious. She wants to become a nun, but she gives this idea up and marries Pedrito at age sixteen. She has… read analysis of Patria
Bélgica Adela Mirabal Reyes, who goes by the nickname Dedé, is the only sister to never join the resistance movement and to survive past 1960. She falls in love with the revolutionary Virgilio but never… read analysis of Dedé
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… read analysis of Minerva
The youngest sister of the family, Antonia María Teresa Mirabal Reyes, who goes by María Teresa or Mate, looks up to Minerva and spends most of her time initially thinking about clothes and boys. She… read analysis of Mate
Mercedes Reyes Camilo is the mother of the sisters. Mamá originally avoids trouble with Trujillo and wants her daughters to get married young, but later in life she becomes rebellious and outspoken. Originally illiterate and… read analysis of Mamá
The dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930-61, and the antagonist of the novel. Trujillo seized power as the head of the army and then rules behind puppet presidents. He sets up a “personality cult”… read analysis of Rafael Trujillo
Virgilio Morales (Lío)
A young Communist intellectual who fights against Trujillo. Dedé falls in love with him, but Virgilio has a romantic and intellectual relationship with Minerva before fleeing the country.
The Interview Woman
A Dominican woman from the U.S. who finds Dedé to interview her about the butterflies.
Patria’s husband, a simple farmer who is devoted to his ancestral land. He joins the resistance movement at Patria’s urging, and loses his land as a result.
Manolo Tavarez Justo
The official leader of the Fourteenth of June Movement and Minerva’s husband. Manolo is killed three years after Minerva.
Leandro Guzman (Palomino)
An engineer who delivers weapons to Minerva and then falls in love with and marries Mate.
A girl whose family was killed by Trujillo. Minerva befriends her at the convent school, and they end up in prison together. She also goes by the nickname Sina.
A beautiful girl at Minerva’s school whom Trujillo seduces, impregnates, and abandons.
Patria’s son, who joins Minerva’s movement.
Patria’s daughter, who avoids religion until the church is attacked by Trujillo.
The Mirabals’ maid. After the butterflies’ deaths, Fela acts as a medium channeling their spirits.
Minerva’s daughter, who becomes a professor and politician.
Padre de Jesús
A young priest who joins the resistance movement with Patria.
Rufino de la Cruz
A friendly man who drives the sisters when they are under house arrest, and is murdered alongside them.
A captain of the SIM who keeps track of the sisters when they are under house arrest. He seems to simultaneously feel somewhat ashamed of his actions, to want the Mirabals to like him, and to have no trouble personally stealing their land.
Manuel de Moya
The “secretary of state” whose primary job is to find pretty girls for Trujillo.
Papá’s illegitimate daughter who works at a pharmacy.
The head of SIM. A violent, sadistic man who is fond of torturing others.
A kind guard who smuggles things to Mate in prison.
A girl who befriends Mate in prison and kisses her, much to Mate’s dismay.
Trujillo’s handsome, womanizing son.
A selfish woman in prison.
A nun at Minerva’s school who respects Minerva’s outspoken nature.
One of Minerva’s closest friends at school.
Another of Minerva’s close friends at school, Elsa goes on to the university and marries a journalist.
Daysi and Lidia
María Teresa’s two friends at the convent school.
Berto and Raúl
María Teresa’s two cousins. She has a crush on both of them as a girl.
A rebellious old man in trouble for refusing to hang a portrait of Trujillo.
One of Minerva’s first revolutionary friends.
A nun at the convent school who talks with Patria about her calling.
A distributor for Papá’s store, Virgilio’s cousin.
Governor de la Maza
He takes Papá for questioning and propositions Minerva on Trujillo’s behalf.
Anselmo Paulino (“Magic Eye”)
Trujillo’s right-hand man who questions Minerva.
Mamá’s uncle, an old friend of Trujillo’s.
Mate’s roommate at the university, a member of the underground.
Patria’s last child, named after two Cuban revolutionaries.
María Teresa’s child.
Minerva’s second child.
Jaimito’s mother, who adores Dedé.
An old Spaniard who helps the sisters.
A doctor and “political” whom Minerva visits.
Dr. Pedro Viñas
A “political” who updates Minerva on the revolution.
The Young Soldier
A seemingly innocent young soldier who hitchhikes with the sisters on the day of their deaths, but seems ultimately to be a government plant.
Dedé’s friend in 1994, who warns her about living in the past.