In the Time of the Butterflies


Julia Alvarez

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Time of the Butterflies can help.
The Rabbits Symbol Icon
At the beginning of Minerva’s first narration she describes how she has felt caged her whole life, and she compares herself to the rabbits that her family keeps in pens. One day she opens the cage door for a female rabbit, but the rabbit doesn’t want to leave her pen. Minerva then declares that she is not like the rabbits, as she desires freedom no matter what. In this way the rabbits represent Minerva – trapped by her father’s overprotectiveness as a child, and then trapped by the rules and fear of the Trujillo police state. The rabbits also represent the populace of the Dominican Republic. As the rabbits are afraid to leave their comfortable pens, so the majority of Dominicans go along with the Trujillo regime, afraid for their own safety if they should try to escape their “cage.”

The Rabbits Quotes in In the Time of the Butterflies

The In the Time of the Butterflies quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rabbits. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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:
Get the entire Time of the Butterflies LitChart as a printable PDF.
In the Time of the Butterflies PDF

The Rabbits Symbol Timeline in In the Time of the Butterflies

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rabbits 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
Freedom and Imprisonment Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Courage vs. Cowardice Theme Icon
...sisters always had to ask him permission for everything. Minerva used to watch the family’s rabbits in their pens and feel that she was like them. One day she tried to... (full context)