Responding to Literature
March 29, 2018
Not Just Rain
The novel In The Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, is a story told by four sisters living under the rule of dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic from 1938 to 1994. All four sisters alternate turns telling stories from their perspectives and fight for their entitled rights while they battle Trujillo who constantly creates setbacks and denies them their right to freedom. Throughout the novel In the Time of the Butterflies, rain is used to portray gloominess and despair and also portrays the slow but important unification of the Mirabal sisters. In the book, rain is a recurring symbol for negative outcomes, like the rain before the disastrous Discovery Day party which ends when Minerva slaps Trujillo. Yet rain is also used to represent hope as shown in the dice rolling scene in Trujillo’s palace. While there are many scenes in the book with rain in them representing sadness and hope, the rain can also symbolize unification.
The negative effects of rain begin when Minerva finds a letter in her father's coat pocket that is an invitation to Trujillo’s house party. The note gives specific instructions for Minerva to attend. When her family gets out of the car at Trujillo’s palace, they note that it had been raining during the day. The significance of the rain is noticed by the Mirabal family. Minerva says, “It’s been raining on and off all day, the usual October hurricane weather” (93). Minerva negatively associates the rain with hurricane weather showing that she believes the rain comes before bad outcomes. They get to Trujillo’s mansion an hour late. Trujillo’s Secretary of State is waiting for them which creates an ominous feeling because he helps seduce young women for Trujillo. While Minerva and Trujillo are dancing, Trujillo “yanks her by the wrist, thrusting his pelvis” (100). Right after Trujillo thrusts his pelvis, Minerva slaps him. Right after she slaps him, “the rain comes down hard, slapping sheets of it” (100). The rain shows how much trouble Minerva and her family will be in because she slapped Trujillo. For the next day or so, it continues to rain; the whole family is scared that someone will be taken away. The continuous rain creates an ominous feeling in the text and hints that Trujillo will try to retaliate against the family because Minerva dangerously rejected him. The rain symbolizes the fear that the family is feeling.
An example of rain representing hope is when Minerva meets with Trujillo to get her father out of jail. Minerva asks Trujillo if she could go to law school. Trujillo suggests...