Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Advisor/Committee Chair

Professor Paul Stasi

Committee Member

Professor Laney Salisbury


Julia Alvarez’s portrayal of the Mirabal sisters from In the Time of the Butterflies centers the novel around the sisters’ speech and humanity. This decenters the dictator, a figure who was often central to Latin American dictator novels. The first chapter will provide background on the dictator’s characteristics to demonstrate how the Mirabal sisters’ speech draws attention away from his power. The four times the sisters encounter the dictator Rafael Trujillo in the novel, their speech decenters him because Alvarez emphasizes their experience. In the second chapter, I examine the gaps between each encounter, focusing on Minerva’s speech development towards resistant speech. I then examine the role of her family’s speech, particularly in terms of its protective role, which blurs the lines between the public and private spheres because of the regime’s oppression in both spheres. In the final chapter, I analyze the implications of the Mirabal sisters’ speech in the Dominican Republic—which resulted in their death—and the implications of their portrayal in Alvarez’s novel. By emphasizing their speech and experience, Alvarez demonstrates the significance of women’s speech in political participation instead of simply reiterating the violence they faced. This ultimately is more productive as it encourages other women’s speech by demonstrating that any woman can exercise her speech politically.