In the Time of the Butterflies

Portraits of Trujillo Symbol Analysis

Portraits of Trujillo Symbol Icon
Part of Trujillo’s personality cult is a rule that every family must have a picture of “El Jefe” (Trujillo) displayed in their home. There is a portrait of him in Mamá’s house next to a picture of Jesus, and this is especially powerful for Patria, who sometimes sees the two as opposites – God and devil – but sometimes sees the faces merge, and with a later portrait she accidentally prays to Trujillo instead of to God. The portraits of Trujillo, then, represent El Jefe’s aspirations to become like a god, watching over everything and having total control of the Dominican Republic. They show the pervasive fear of his police state, and also the personality cult he has built up around himself, so that children are raised to love him and everyone must praise him as their “Benefactor.”

Portraits of Trujillo Quotes in In the Time of the Butterflies

The In the Time of the Butterflies quotes below all refer to the symbol of Portraits of Trujillo. 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

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:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

I see a guardia, and I think, who have you killed. I hear a police siren, and I think who is going to be killed. See what I mean?
I see the picture of our president with eyes that follow me around the room, and I am thinking he is trying to catch me doing something wrong. Before, I always thought our president was like God, watching over everything I did.

Related Characters: Mate (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Maybe because I was used to the Good Shepherd and Trujillo side by side in the old house, I caught myself praying a little greeting as I walked by.
Then another time, I came in from outside with my hands full of anthuriums. I looked up at him, and I thought why not. I set up a vase on the table right under his picture…
I don’t know if that’s how it started, but pretty soon, I was praying to him, not because he was worthy or anything like that. I wanted something from him, and prayer was the only way I knew to ask.

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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El Jefe entered in a wash of camera flashes. I don’t know what I thought I’d see – I guess after three months of addressing him, I was sure I’d feel a certain kinship with the stocky, overdressed man before me. But it was just the opposite. The more I tried to concentrate on the good side of him, the more I saw a vain, greedy, unredeemed creature. Maybe the evil one had become flesh like Jesus! Goosebumps jumped all up and down my bare arms.

Related Characters: Patria (speaker), Rafael Trujillo
Related Symbols: Portraits of Trujillo
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

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Portraits of Trujillo Symbol Timeline in In the Time of the Butterflies

The timeline below shows where the symbol Portraits of Trujillo appears in In the Time of the Butterflies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Minerva, 1938, 1941, 1944
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Courage vs. Cowardice Theme Icon
...doing bad things to learning that “Jesus had slapped a baby.” She thinks about the portrait of Trujillo that hangs in her family’s house next to a picture of Jesus and... (full context)
Chapter 3: This little book belongs to María Teresa, 1945 to 1946
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Courage vs. Cowardice Theme Icon
...is Elsa’s grandfather, and is in trouble with the police for refusing to hang a picture of Trujillo in his house. (full context)
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...Trujillo as “like God, watching over everything I did,” but now when she sees a portrait of Trujillo she thinks that he is trying to catch her doing something bad. María... (full context)
Chapter 4: Patria, 1946
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...recognizes that she has lost her faith. One day she notes Patria staring at the portrait of Trujillo next to the picture of Jesus and says “they’re a pair, aren’t they?”... (full context)
Chapter 6: Minerva, 1949
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...souvenir. At the last party she attended, Minerva brought her back a paper fan with Trujillo’s face on one side and the Virgin on the other. Minerva kept making María Teresa turn... (full context)
Chapter 10: Patria, January to March 1960
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Courage vs. Cowardice Theme Icon
...as everything is the same but all rearranged. In the hallway she has the required portrait of Trujillo, but now it is a picture of El Jefe in his old age,... (full context)
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Patria is still used to having the picture of Jesus next to the portrait of Trujillo, so sometimes she accidentally says a prayer to El Jefe as she passes.... (full context)
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...they haven’t been “disappeared.” Patria goes out and cuts new flowers to put under Trujillo’s portrait. (full context)
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Courage vs. Cowardice Theme Icon
...church as condemnations of Trujillo keep issuing from the pulpit. Patria keeps praying to the portrait of Trujillo, warning him about fighting against God, as soon he will be dead and... (full context)
Dictatorship Theme Icon
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...enters. Patria expects to feel more sympathetic towards him after months of praying to his portrait, but instead he seems more evil than ever. She wonders if he is the devil... (full context)