Study Guide

Friends in In the Time of the Butterflies

By Alvarez, Julia

Friends

The Mirabals are one tight family unit in In the Time of the Butterflies, but nobody gets by without a little help from their friends. The main core are the girls that the sisters befriend at school: these relationships extend into their revolutionary years.

Sinita

Sinita is a poor girl whom Minerva befriends on her first day at school. She's quite a sight:

She sat alone, glaring at everybody, as if she would pick a fight if you asked her where her mother was. I could see, though, that she was sitting on her hands and biting her bottom lip so as not to cry. (1.2.21)

Minerva soon learns the reasons for Sinita's toughness and sadness: she has lost every man in her family to Trujillo's regime.

The girls become great friends. Sinita tells Minerva about Trujillo's secret (that he's killing everyone off) and is the brave actress who points a bow and arrow at the President's face during a performance. She is also in jail with the girls in La Victoria, although now she's called Sina and is all grown up. She and Minerva are the guards' favorites to pick on, which means that Sinita is probably one of the main leaders of the resistance.

Virgilio "Lío" Morales

Lío, like Sinita, is a character who helps Minerva along her path to political consciousness. The first time the girls lay eyes on him they know he's different: "a tall, pale man […], his glasses thick and wire-rimmed. A doctor maybe, a scholar for sure" (2.5.42). He's an intellectual who brings his communist political ideas to the countryside and affects the Mirabal sisters forever.

He is a famous rebel, and on Trujillo's bad list. When Trujillo finds out that Minerva is friends with him—and worse, discovers the letters from him in the purse she forgets at the party—that seals her fate: she is marked as a troublemaker.

Lío leaves the country to save his own life, and though he invites Minerva to join him, Dedé never passes along the invitation and so they are separated for the rest of their lives. He continues the struggle, giving revolutionary speeches on the radio that Dedé sometimes listens to, and they are reunited many years later, long after Trujillo is dead and buried.

Don Bernardo and Doña Belén

This couple are neighbors of the Mirabal family. Don Bernardo always helps the girls by giving them rides. He seems to know what they're up to and to be sympathetic to their cause, but he's got his hands full with his sick wife, Doña Belén. The two are Spaniards but have lived in the Dominican Republic for many years.

Elsa

Elsa is another school friend, "pretty in an I-told-you-so way, as if she hadn't expected to turn out pretty and now she had to prove it" (1.2.44). She is one of the actors in the infamous performance, and later on becomes a friend to Minerva after she has married a journalist named Roberto Suárez. They don't join the movement but are supportive and visit Minerva all the time when she is under house arrest.

Lina Lovatón

Lina Lovatón is the younger girls' idol at school, and her great beauty catches Trujillo's eye. He starts wooing her, and then, on her seventeenth birthday, whisks her away to a party at a new house. She never comes back. It turns out that Lina had gotten pregnant, Trujillo's wife had gotten mad and tried to kill her, and so Trujillo had shipped her off to Miami. She serves as a cautionary tale for all the other girls who might succumb to El Jefe.

Don Horacio

This dude is an old man who hosts secret, illegal political meetings that Minerva starts attending while she's at school. He's Elsa's grandfather and has gotten into lots of trouble with the police for resisting their silly laws.

Hilda

Hilda is another school friend, except she doesn't attend school. She just hangs around, stirring up revolutionary spirit among the girls. At one point she has to hide from the police dressed as a nun, which is funny because she won't say she believes in God. She gets arrested, though, and we never find out what happens to her.

Santiclós

Named after "Santa Claus" because he is always smuggling in gifts, this prison guard is friendly to the girls even though he works for the bad guys. Mate has so much affection for him that she chooses not to testify about her torture because she's afraid it will get him into trouble.

Rufino

Under house arrest the girls are only allowed to travel in rented cars with a driver, and Rufino quickly becomes their favorite. Unfortunately for brave Rufino, who drives through the rainstorm to get the girls to Puerto Plata, the sisters' preference for him results in his death. He is murdered in the ambush along with the girls.

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