In the Time of the Butterflies
Julia Alvarez uses her vivid imagery to blend with the stark reality that Trujillo's regime imposed on the Dominican Republic from the 1930's to the 1960's. Ghastly, realistic images accentuate the gloomy moments throughout the novel. Alvarez humanizes the landscape and opens doors into the souls of the Mirabal sisters. Unforgiving reality slowly creeps into the reader's mind through dark descriptions of Trujillo's merciless rule.
Julia Alvarez uses descriptions to transform situations and events into conceivably real and dangerous situations. Her descriptive powers emanate through each character's abilities to perceive events and recount situations. The Mirabal sisters(Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Teresa) each have their own individual voices that we hear throughout the novel. Each sister's voice triggers recognition in the readers mind, and is similar to audial identification. In the following passage, Alvarez describes the landscape of the country in a vivid fashion:
"The whole spine of the country is wet.[she
goes on to say]...Atlantic where it is lost in the waves that rock the bones of martyrs in the deepest sleep. We've traveled almost the full length of the island and can report that every corner of it is wet, every river overflows its banks, every rain barrel is filled to the brim, every wall washed clean of writing no one knows how to read anyway."(Alvarez, 116-117)
This anthropomorphic contour of the land reveals the political strife clutching the country. Minerva paints the painful image of the country's political situation for the reader. The facts are as plain as writing on the walls; however, no one can read the truth about Trujillo's regime. Minerva describes the political unrest, while her sisters endure political hardships that they are enduring. Dede's life contrasts Minerva's in that her actions are described in the third person.