Rafael Trujillo In The Time Of The Butterflies Essay

In the Time of the Butterflies Essay

1255 WordsJul 2nd, 20126 Pages

The “Revered” Dictator “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Andre Gide) In the novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, written by Julia Alvarez, four sisters are led through a risk infested journey in which they must overcome hindrances with hollow consequences. This historical fiction novel takes us through a rollercoaster of events, incorporating everything from the partialities towards women, to life below the oppressive administration of the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo. The events painted by the four sisters give us some insight as to the positives and negatives of life in the Dominican Republic. As the novel progresses, we see the diversity in relation to the…show more content…

Furthermore, the tyrannical ways of Trujillo are palpable in the quote, “They stripped me down to my slip… I had never known such terror.”(Alvarez 254) Here, Maria Teresa is being tortured in order to persuade her husband into doing something. Clearly these acts are unacceptable to us, and it was definitely viewed as immoral to Alvarez. The reproving manner is evident here as Alvarez is trying to instill some provocative thoughts in the reader by giving us examples as to the severity and atrocity of Trujillo’s methods. Her use of phrases like these are definitely justified as in reality, Trujillo is doing bad things and should be considered a dictator. Eventually, it comes down to the underlying idea that Alvarez uses words like “terror” and “fear” to connect to the savage ways of Trujillo, making the dictatorial theme apparent. Likewise, another factor that assists in Trujillo’s persistent control of the Dominican Republic is his abuse of power. Rules are restrictions and too many rules lead to the entrapment of citizens. Julia Alvarez specifically utilizes the word “weakness” to portray the character trait that the majority of the citizens possess. In the word “weakness,” one thinks about not-strong and lack of courage. In essence, no one has the courage to stand up to Trujillo. For example, we see the common trait through the quote, “People who opened their big mouths didn’t live very long.”

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"El Jefe" means "The Chief", and it is a fitting nickname for Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961.  Trujillo sought total control over all elements of government and the lives of his people, and was ruthless in erradicating dissent and eliminating obstacles that stood in the way of his goals. 

Trujillo rose through power by way of the military, and as Sinita explains, "all the people who were above him kept disappearing until he was the one right below the head of the whole armed forces".  Through ruthlessness and trickery, he quickly became the actual head of the armed forces, and then soon announced himself president of the country (Chapter 2).  An incorrigible womanizer, he kept mistresses in opulent palaces around the island, and his government was characterized by corruption and greed.  When faced with opposition, such as that represented by the movement in which the Mirabal sisters were involved, he responded forcefully and unscrupulously, putting those who dared to rebel under surveillance, imprisoning them, and, as in the case of Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa Mirabal, ordering their executions.

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