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Cherish Family As a Main Theme of the Novel In the Time of the Butterflies: Critical Analysis

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In one’s life, one may take the things they have for granted. In many scenarios one person may not cherish the things they have and when those things eventually disappear they realize they should have cherished them more. The book, In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez tells the story of 4 sisters and their struggle against the Trujillo regime. In the book one clearly evident theme that Alvarez writes about is to cherish ones loved ones, cherish what one has while one has it.

In the book one theme clearly stated is to cherish ones family. For example, in chapter one we are introduced to Dede, she is being interviewed by a woman from the United States. Dede is hoping that she does not have to retell all of the stories that bring back the horrible memories and the questions of why she was the sister who survived. Eventually the woman asks Dede how she can keep a tragedy from taking her under and Dede replies “There were many many happy years. I remember those. I try anyhow. I tell myself, Dede, concentrate on the positive!”(Alvarez 7). This quote shows that Dede tries to focus on the happy moments that she can remember, and thinks back to how she loved her family. This is significant because it proves that one should love and cherish their family because one may never know when they might disappear and never come back. As a result of Dede being the one sister who survived, she has to think about the past and how she could have loved and shown her sisters more appreciation. Dede has had many years to think about this topic however, it is finally sinking in.

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Moreover, chapter 9 gives evidence to prove the theme that one should cherish what they have while they have it. Dede is continuing to tell the interview woman about her life and what happened with her sisters. Dede finds herself remembering a poem that Minerva used to say. Dede recites the poem and thinks how it always goes through her mind at that particular time and she says to the interview woman “That poem always goes through my head this time of day, Minerva used to recite it a lot those last few months…”(Alvarez 171). This is significant because it shows that Dede is stuck in the past and how she remembers the little things that her sisters did that made her happy. When Dede says this quote she is remembering how her sisters impacted her life in the slightest of ways and how she cherished the happy things that mattered to her. Thus this evidence supports the theme that one should cherish the things they have while they have it. Though Dede did not know that she was going to be losing her sisters she cherished them while she had them.

The themes from above are further reinforced later in the book in chapter 12. All of Dedes sisters are going to see their husbands in the prison in the mountains. Dede got in an argument with her sisters saying that they are all commiting suicide because they are all going to be in one place at one time where it would be easy to kill them. Thus Dede does not want to lose her sisters and she does not want them to risk their lives all together. Because of this Minerva tells Dede “Come on, Dede. Think how sorry you’d be if something should happen to us and you didn’t say goodbye.” then Dede ran to the car sobbing and replied “I don’t want to have to live without you” (Alvarez 266). These quotes illustrate that even in the times where Dede is mad at her sisters she still loves them, cherishes them, and wants them to know that. Dede does not support her sister’s decision to go to the prison but she still wants them to know that she loves them. Dede expresses her concerns for her sisters all traveling together because they are important to her and she wants them to return safely.

As one can see above, one must cherish ones loved ones, cherish what one has while one has it. When a person cherishes what they have they will ultimately be thankful that they did cherish it. This is a theme that was shown throughout the book and was displayed through Dede. After Dede’s sisters died she realized how much she truly did love them and she was thankful that she cherished them while they were alive. There were many examples throughout the book where Dede cherished her loved ones.

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Cherish Family As a Main Theme of the Novel In the Time of the Butterflies: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
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