In the Time of the Butterflies

Character Analysis of Papá


  • Patriarch of the Family
  • Had the respect of many
  • Supported Trujillo in the beginning
  • Jailed after leaving Trujillo's party early, Minerva's letters to Lío were found in her purse
  • Becomes very sick in prison, dies soon after his release

Papá has a great impact on the Mirabal sisters throughout the novel and is an influential person in their lives.

Indulges His Daughters

"Finally Papá gave in...Patria could could go away to convent school if it wasn't one just for becoming a nun" (Alvarez 11).

"Dedé marvels easily she assumes they can get permission from Papá" (Alvarez 69).

  • Comes across as very stern, only his opinion matters
  • Gives in easily to his daughters wishes after only a little convincing


"'I can trust her in your care?' Papá asks, looking the governor squarely in the eye" (Alvarez 104).

"'I hid them to protect you,' he said. At first, I didn't know what he was talking about. Then I realized he must have discovered the letters missing from his coat pocket" (Alvarez 89).

  • Cares very deeply for his daughters
  • Wants to keep anything bad from happening to them
  • Will go to extremes to keep them safe
  • Protect them from information

Forceful, Violent, Strict

"Already the volleyball evening are becoming a problem. Papá does not feel that two sisters make the best chaperones for each other, especially if they are both eager to go to the same place" (Alvarez 69).

"His hand slammed in to the side of my face as it never had before on any part of my body...'That's to remind you that you owe your father some respect'" (Alvarez 89).

  • As a result of his protective tendencies, very strict about what his daughters can do and who they may be around
  • Has trouble controlling his anger, especially while drinking


"The other bedroom she does not say was her father's after he and Mamá stopped sleeping together" (Alvarez 5).

"Everywhere I looked, I kept seeing those four raggedy girls with Papá's and my own deep-set eyes staring back at me" (Alvarez 86).

"I can't believe she came to the funeral mass with her girls, adding four more slaps to her big blow...I asked Minerva who invited them. All she said was they were Papá's daughters, too" (Alvarez 118).

"I blamed Papá for everything: his young woman, his hurting Mamá, his cooping me up while he went gallivanting around" (Alvarez 88).

  • After marriage problems, goes off and meets with another woman
  • Still has daughters (no sons)
  • Betrays Mirabal sisters by not staying loyal
  • Because Papá has more money, he can afford to support another family

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways did Papá have a positive effect on the Mirabal sisters' lives? In what ways did he have a negative effect?
  2. Did Papá's infidelity cause problems in his marriage or did his marriage drive him to infidelity?
  3. What character traits of Papá's are seen most in his actions throughout the novel?
  4. Which of Papá's traits can be seen among his Mirabal daughters?
  5. Would Papá have supported Las Mariposas and the revolutionary movement?
  6. Explain the patriarchal role of the father within a family.
  7. Why is or isn't it important for a father to set rules in a family?