Adv. American Lit
16 December 2016
Julia Alvarez was born in the U.S., but raised in the Dominican Republic. She was raised in a patriarchal family, meaning the men worked while the women stayed home and cooked, cleaned, and took care of the children. She lived in the Dominican Republic until age ten when she was forced to flee to the U.S. for safety from the shrewd Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Alvarez created characters and conflicts in her books, such as In the Time of the Butterflies, based on her family and her cultural experiences.
Alvarez lived in a patriarchal family and had many women in her life as her mentors. She came from a large family of girls and that influenced the family in…
Her father was one of the many adversaries of the dictator of the Dominican Republic who tried to overthrow him. The encyclopedia said, “The dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, could not victimize a family with such strong American ties. However, when Alvarez’s father secretly joined the forces attempting to oust Trujillo, the police set up surveillance of his home.” (Encyclopedia of World Biography) This shows up in her story In the Time of the Butterflies where the women’s husbands and sons were joining a revolution to get rid of the dictator. Because of her father’s involvement in the revolution, Alvarez and her family had to flee to America. One source said, “Describing the scene as their plane landed in the United States in American Scholar, Alvarez wrote, ‘All my childhood I had dressed like an American, eaten American foods, and befriended American children. I had gone to an American school and spent most of the day speaking and reading English. At night, my prayers were full of blond hair and blue eyes and snow…. All my childhood I had longed for this moment of arrival. And here I was, an American girl, coming home at last.’” (Encyclopedia of World Biography) Like Alvarez, characters had to flee from Trujillo’s rule to avoid persecution. However, even though she was born in America, the move back was arduous for Alvarez…
Dede’s life growing up was very similar to Alvarez’s life. Alvarez wrote, “They’re all there, mama, Papa, Patria-Minerva-Dede. Bang-bang-bang, their father likes to joke, aiming a finger pistol at each one, as if he were shooting them, not boasting about having sired them. Three girls, each born within a year of each other! And then, nine years later, Maria Teresa, his final desperate attempt at a boy misfiring.” (Alvarez 8) Dede was the second of four girls, just like Alvarez. The families in the book were also large and very close knit. One example is, “The days started to fill, Nelson was born, and two years later, Noris, and soon I had a third belly growing larger each day. They say around here that bellies stir up certain craving or aversions. Well, the first two bellies were simple, all I craved were certain foods, but this belly had me worrying all the time about my sister Minerva.” (51) The family life experiences of Alvarez showed up in this part of the book when Patria was talking about her family and how big it was getting. The roles of the women also show up in Alvarez’s writing. She wrote, “I moved back home with the children in early August, resuming my duties, putting on a good face over a sore heart, hiding the sun-as the people around here say-with a finger. And slowly, I began coming back from the dead. What brought me back? It wasn’t God, no senor….