Study Guide

In the Time of the Butterflies Family Tree

By Alvarez, Julia

The Family

While the four sisters are the most important members of the family, the clan is extensive and has a lot more members than just the butterflies and Dedé. So let's get to naming names (but not in a snitch way).

Pedrito González

Patria's hubba hubba hubby, Pedrito, is real salt of the earth. The first time she sees him she falls in love with his "pale young foot luxuriant with dark hair," and later he convinces her with his simple, farmer's ways. He tells her one evening:

"You're not getting a fancy, high-talking man in Pedrito González, [. . .] But you are getting a man who adores you like he does this rich soil we're standing on." (1.4.52)

His wife and his land—that's what's important to Pedrito.

Later on he and Patria argue over the revolutionaries' use of their farm, because it puts everything the family owns at risk. Pedrito's love for Patria and his children overcome his fears, though, and he lets them stay. Later, he does lose the farm; the SIMs burn it to the ground and arrest him and Nelson. He survives, but Dedé says he's never been the same after Patria's death.

Jaimito Fernández

Jaimito is Dedé's husband. He's also the girls' second cousin. He seems okay at first, friendly enough, but he is much happier to go along with things like they are than to risk his neck and try to make a change. He's also used to getting his way:

Who could control Jaimito, only son of his doting mother, unquestioned boss of his five sisters! (2.5.101)

For this reason, he's also Dedé's biggest excuse for not joining the movement.

He actually really does stand in her way, threatening to leave her (and, implied in that threat, that he'll take away their three sons, all named after him) if she gets mixed up in the revolution. They divorce in the end, which is not surprising, because they really don't see eye to eye.

Manolo Tavárez, a.k.a. Enriquillo

A law student when he first arrives in the novel, Manolo is Minerva's husband. He's five years younger than her, and also already engaged to someone else when they get together, but he quickly breaks that off for his relationship with Minerva. During the early years of their marriage he cheats on her with another woman, which is disappointing, but soon they are united by the struggle.

Manolo emerges as a leader of the revolution and is chosen as president of the June 14th movement. In prison he rallies the prisoners when they are feeling desperate, but after the girls are released he starts to lose faith. He is especially worried about their safety and can't do anything to protect them from behind bars.

Leandro Guzmán Rodríguez, a.k.a. Palomino

Leandro is an engineer who delivers weapons to Manolo and Minerva's house. He and Mate quickly fall in love and marry. He, along with all of the husbands, is imprisoned in La Victoria. At one point he is forced to watch as guards torture Mate, and he ends up giving up information in order to make it stop. He's accused of being a traitor, but Manolo defends him.

Nelson González

Nelson is Patria's firstborn son and is seventeen when the revolution comes. He's caught between being a boy and a man. On the one hand, he teases his sister relentlessly like a child; on the other, he spends his evenings at a "young widow's house" and his mother knows he is "sowing wild oats along with his father's cacao crop" (2.8.14). When his aunts and uncles start meeting with their guerrilla cell on his family property, he wants to join.

Arrested along with his father for their activities, Nelson turns eighteen in prison. Thanks to his mother's pleading, he is pardoned. She has offered herself up to God in exchange for her son's life, and doesn't forget her promise.

Tío José, a.k.a. Pepe

Uncle Pepe is sort of a go-between for the family. He's respected in the community and by the regime, so he can find out what the official buzz is, but he loves his nieces and does what he can to try to warn and protect them.

Noris

Noris is Nelson's little sister, Patria's daughter. She grows up quickly, evolving from a semi-snotty teenager (who refuses to join her mother on a retreat) into a responsible young lady when the revolution strikes. She spends most of the novel sent off to safer places, though.

Carmen María

A lower-class woman who has four children with Papá. The Mirabal sisters treat her poorly at first, but they come around and even begin to consider her daughters, their half-sisters, as family. She obviously has a hard life as a mistress:

The woman hung her head and mumbled her name, Carmen something. I noticed she was wearing a cheap ring, the adjustable kind that children buy at any street corner from the candy vendors. I wondered if she was trying to pass herself off as a respectable married lady in this, one of the nicer barrios of San Francisco. (2.6.70)

The fact that she is not married but has four children, and that Enrique visits her, would have made her neighbors look down upon her.

Margarita Mirabal

The oldest daughter of Carmen María, Margarita goes from being a little girl (who can't spell her own name) to a graduate of pharmacy school (who ends up being the key that holds the family together when half of them are in prison). It could be Minerva and Dedé's kindness towards her that motivates her—they pay for her education after their father's death—or maybe she's just a good person.

Berto

One of the girls' cousins, this guy is a real sweetheart. He brings flowers to Mamá and gives Mate her first kiss. Unfortunately for him, she doesn't stay interested too long.

Raúl

He's Berto's brother and also the girls' cousin. He's also one of Mate's potential boyfriends.

Doña Leila

Jaimito's mother, who goes against all mother-in-law stereotypes and absolutely adores her daughter-in-law Dedé. She's a beautiful older woman who takes good care of her family, always cooking them nice treats.

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