Study Guide

In the Time of the Butterflies Chapter 2 Summary

By Alvarez, Julia

Part 1, Chapter 2

Minerva 1938, 1941, 1944

  • Now Minerva is the narrator. She remembers once trying to set a rabbit free from its cage, but it wouldn't go. She slapped the rabbit but it just scared the poor thing, and she realizes that the rabbit didn't want to be free.
  • Patria, Minerva's sister, declares that she wants to be a nun, and her mother approves. Her dad, however, isn't into it. The parents argue over whether to send her to a religious school and finally come to a compromise: she can go to a religious school as long as it's not just to become a nun.
  • Minerva asks her dad if she and her older sister Dedé can join Patria at school. Their mother, who didn't get an education herself, supports the idea.
  • Papá says that it's fine, but that he needs one girl to stay and help him with the business. Dedé volunteers. She stays back for one semester to help with the books on the farm.
  • At the boarding school, Minerva meets a poor girl named Sinita. She's dressed in black and is all alone—no mother to drop her off.
  • Minerva gives her a sparkly button she'd found on the train as a friendship button. It works. They become pals.
  • Some girls gossip about Sinita being a "charity student," but Minerva defends her and they ask to sleep next to each other in the dorm.
  • The nun, Sor Milagros, allows everyone to choose their own bed and tells Minerva to take good care of Sinita.
  • Sor Milagros tries to give the girls a health talk but is too embarrassed to come out and say that if they get their periods they should come and see her. Minerva tells Sinita the low-down on puberty, and she offers to tell her the secret of Trujillo in exchange.
  • One night Minerva hears Sinita crying in her bed, so she goes to see what's wrong.
  • Sinita says she's crying about her brother, José Luis, who had died over the summer. She tells of how her family used to be rich and important; that three of her uncles had been friends of Trujillo but had turned against him.
  • Minerva is surprised to hear accusations that Trujillo is bad, but Sinita says that all three of her uncles had been shot.
  • Sinita tells Minerva that Trujillo had become president through blackmail and a coup d'état. After he gained power her uncles stood up to him and they were killed, followed by two more of her uncles, her father, and her brother.
  • Minerva asks Sinita to stop because it makes her want to throw up.
  • Sinita tells how, walking home from church with all of her widowed aunts and girl cousins, a dwarf who always sold them lottery tickets came up to her brother. José Luis asked for a lucky number, then something silver flashed in the dwarf's hand. José Luis started screaming and his shirt was covered in blood.
  • Sor Asunción, one of the nuns, knew Sinita's family and invited her to come to the school for free after her brother's death.
  • Sinita explains to Minerva that Trujillo's secret is that he is having everyone killed.
  • That night Minerva gets her period for the first time.
  • Another schoolmate, Lina Lovatón, is beautiful and a few years older than Minerva. One day, while the girls are playing volleyball, Trujillo himself sees her and asks to meet her.
  • Trujillo starts visiting the school, giving gifts to the nuns and also to Lina.
  • He throws a party for Lina's 17th birthday, and she never comes back from it.
  • It turns out that Lina got pregnant, Trujillo's wife got mad and tried to kill her, and so Trujillo put Lina up in a mansion on the island.
  • In 1944, three years after the Lina incident, Minerva and her friends put on a performance about national independence for a school contest. They win and are sent to the capital to perform for Trujillo.
  • At first Minerva doesn't want to go, but Sinita convinces her that it will be like a hidden protest.
  • At the performance, Sinita is supposed to untie Minerva, who is representing the imprisoned nation, but instead she walks up to Trujillo and points her bow and arrow right at him.
  • Trujillo's son, Ramfis, who has been a colonel since he was four years old (for reals), breaks the bow, grabs and insults Sinita, and makes her untie Minerva with her teeth.
  • Minerva saves all of their skins by chanting "Viva Trujillo" which means "Long live Trujillo."
  • Sor Asunción scolds the girls on their way back to school for their misbehavior.

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