Iswariya Baskar, Rachana Mallavarapu
- Ruled the island nation from 1930 to 1961.
- His dictatorship was defined by greed, a rigid control over the Dominican people, and unspeakable brutality.
- The Butterflies were the codenames of Minerva, María Teresa, and Patria Mirabal.
- On November 25, 1960, the dictator's men ambushed their car, and the sisters were beaten to death. Since that time, they have become symbols of courage, dignity, and strength in their country.
"El Jefe" ("the Chief")
- "And then the rain comes down hard, slapping sheets of it." It also represents Trujillo's power; the island is saturated in wetness as well as in the influence of the dictatorship. This quotation thus demonstrates the authoritarian theme that permeates the novel.
- “Suddenly, the dark fills with spies who are paid to hear things and report them down at Security. Don Enrique claims Trujillo needs help running the government. Don Enrique’s daughter says it’s about time women took over the government. Words repeated, distorted,... words stitched to words until they are the winding sheet the family will be buried in when their bodies are found dumped in a ditch, their tongues cut off for speaking too much”(Alvarez 10).
Trujillo's nickname "El Jefe" also symbolizes how he rules the land as the chief or higher power looking down upon the country surrounding the sisters. He had extended his power throughout the country, being everywhere at once.
He had a “mischievous” way of getting power. He rose to power by degrading the people above him and manipulating their minds.
"All of it violated, broken, desecrated, destroyed. Then they set fire to what was left. ... 'I've been good! I've been good!' Patria screamed at the sky"(Alvarez 192).
- He is the self-appointed dictator of the Dominican Republic. A harsh ruler, he demands complete obedience of everyone and commits many cruel and unjust acts against his people, especially through the Mirabal sisters perspectives' the injustice is witnessed first hand.
- EX: imprisonment without trial, confiscating land and possessions, and torture
Worshipped like a God
"And on the third day He rose again ..." Chapter 10
"She prays to him, 'Take me instead, I'll be your sacrificial lamb'"(Alvarez 203).
“‘Trujillo was doing bad things?’ It was as if I had just heard Jesus had slapped a baby or Our Blessed Mother had not conceived Him the immaculate conception way”(Alvarez 17).
He is portrayed like god because of his "high power". In the beginning of the book Minerva is yet to learn of the horrors of Trujillo, she still regards him as being almost on the same level as God. The theme of Trujillo trucking on Jesus' reputation is interlaced with Patria's own connection to Jesus, for she prays to Trujillo every time she passes his portrait.
“Don’t drink anything you are offered, the gesture reminds me. We’ve heard the stories. Young women drugged, then raped by El Jefe” (Alvarez 95)
"It seemed months since they'd been living in this hell of terror and dreadful anticipation. Every day there were more and more arrests. The lists in the newspaper grew longer"(Alvarez 195).
As his regime falls apart, he becomes even more vicious cruel, and eventually has the Mirabal girls (all except for Dede) killed, when they become too much of an opposition to his decaying power.
2. How can a leader “change” the public’s mind?
3. Trujillo governed by the idea, "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both" (Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince). Was this an effective form of government for Trujillo?
4.How do you think the Mirabal sisters would react to the state of the Dominican Republic today?
5. Even though Trujillo was a bad ruler, do you think he had any good qualities in him?