Character Analysis of Papá

Trey Sledge and Annmarie Vincenzo

So, Who is Enrique Mirabal?

Enrique Mirabal is the father of the Mirabal sisters and a successful farmer and store owner. When Maria Teresa is still young, Enrique has a very long affair with Carmen, a woman on the Mirabal family property and has four children with her . He is the father of Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Teresa. He is an alcoholic and very weak in his faith with his actions against his wife. He is still has a protective nature for his children and loves them, but is saddened because he doesn't have any sons. Enrique dies somewhat early in the book after being in jail for two weeks and suffering a a heart attack.

Enrique's traits have been passed down to his daughters, so even though he may die early in the book he still leaves a legacy through his daughters.


All of these character traits affect one another. His protective nature was a cover for his insecurities and weakness in his faith, which was shown with arrogance.


What is Enrique Mirabal Like?

Insecure

- "Mamá said he was just putting his mark on everything so no one could say Enrique Mirabal didn't wear the pants in his family." (Alvarez 12)

(Papá was very worried that other people would not perceive him as a provider for his family. He wished to be seen as strong and dominant, therefore he always had to put his input on things that his wife said.)


- "He had hoped this consolation prize would settle Minerva happily in Ojo de Agua." (Alvarez 56)

(He was insecure that his daughters would not see him as the man he wished to be perceived as. He felt as if the only way to earn his daughters' happiness and approval would be through other means other than talking face-to-face.)


- "'If all my little chickens go, what will become of me?'" (Alvarez 12)

(His whole life revolved around his daughters, and he feared that if they leaved him, nobody else would accept him like they had.)


- "I saw his shoulders droop. I heard him sigh. Right then and there, it hit me harder than his slap: I was much stronger than Papá, Mamá was much stronger. He was the weakest one of all. It was he who would have the hardest time living with the shabby choices he'd made. He needed our love." (Alvarez 89)

(He knew that he was weak and he searched for a "sufficient" love out of his family to fill those needs. He was very fearful to live with those consequences so he took his anger out on one of his beloved daughters.)

Protective

- "I don't know who talked Papá into sending us away to school. Seems like it would have taken the same angel who announced to Mary that she was present with God and got her to be glad about it." (Alvarez 11)

(He felt an immense amount of love towards his daughters and he didn't want the "real world" to hurt them.)


- "Right there he took the opportunity to lecture me about why the hens shouldn't wander away from the barnyard." (Alvarez 23)

(He knew what could happen to them and constantly tried to convince them to stay with him.)


*Through these "Protective" quotes it can be seen inferred that he was extremely insecure and that would later lead to problems in his and his families lives later in the book.

Arrogant

- "He always had to add a little something to what Mamá came up with." (Alvarez 12)

(He always felt as if he had to be right. He felt a sense of superiority over everyone else and desperately tried to defend that.)

Not Strong in His Faith

- "More than once, he said that Patria as a nun would be a waste of a pretty girl...he repeated it often to me." (Alvarez 11)

(He valued his daughters higher than he did nuns and strongly believed that his daughters could amount to more than that of nuns.)


- "Mamá never bought from him. She claimed Jesus told us not to gamble...[Papá] bought a whole bunch of tickets and called it a good investment." (Alvarez 19)

(He did not fear the consequences that he could face for his actions in the after-life or now and he acted upon this belief.)

Discussion Questions

1. How does Alvarez's portrayal of Enrique Mirabal in In the Time of Butterflies compare to Kafka's portrayal of Gregor's father in "The Metamorphosis?"

2. Do you, as the reader, feel sympathetic or judgemental toward Enrique Mirabal throughout this book? Do your feelings ever change throughout this book?

3. Why do you think that Enrique adored Minerva so much?

4. Why did Enrique Mirabal only have prophesies for Dede?

5. How do you think the story about the Mirabal sisters would have changed if their father, Enrique, survived?


***make sure to connect to "world at large"

Work Cited

Alvarez, Julia. In the time of the butterflies. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1994. Print.