Alvarez Discussion Questions
Discussion questions for Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies:
1. The story is told through the point-of-view of the four Mirabal sisters: Patria, Dede, Maria Teresa (Mate), and Minerva. As you read, pay attention to the chapter titles so you know which of the sister’s point of view you are getting. Describe each of the sisters as best you can. What is each one like? How are they different? Find one example from the text to support how you see each of them. Which one are you most like and why? Which one would you like to be friends with and why?
2. Think about how the men in the book are portrayed. Pick 2 or 3 male characters, describe how you view each one of them, and then find evidence in the text to support your view.
3. This story is about 4 young women who take up a political cause. Explain what causes each one to become political. Find evidence for this in the text. What would it take for you to become involved in a political cause? Toward the end of the story, Dede says, “Was it for this, the sacrifice of the butterflies?” (p. 318 of Algonquin Books, 2010). What does Dede mean by this? Does she think it was worth the sacrifice or not? Do you think it was worth the sacrifice?
4. Throughout the book the author uses Spanish words, names and phrases that might make reading the novel confusing for you at times. You might want to keep a family tree, noting the names of husbands, wives and children. Think about what the effect is on you as a reader. Why does the author do this?