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Novels: InTheTimeOfTheButterflies

In The Time Of The Butterflies
Julia Alvarez

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“ ‘Bad things?’ I interrupted. ‘Trujillo was doing bad things?’ It was as if I had just heard Jesus had slapped a baby or Our Blessed Mother had not conceived Him the immaculate conception way. ‘That can’t be true,’ I said, but in my heart, I felt a china-crack of doubt…At home, Trujillo hung on the wall by the picture of Our Lord Jesus with a whole flock of the cutest lambs.”

It would be good to show this interview to the students when reading this introduction to give them an idea of what she is like, what she sounds like, and that she does, in fact, give interviews. It is interesting to hear a first-hand account and will hopefully make the story hit home for the students because they will be able to place a real person in the context of it. After watching the clip, ask the students if they think Alvarez accurately represented Dede Mirabal. What are the traits that they saw in the video as well as in the novel? The differences? What do they think that it would be like to live as the only surviving sister?

This is very self-explanatory, but as an afterthought, this idea would not only show the students images of the characters in the book, but give them a tour through the Dominican country and culture. It would place them in the context of the text and make the allusions and inferences from the novel more understandable and meaningful. For each section, the students must write a half-page, single spaced summary of the section. For the first section, they must describe who the sisters are, summarize the role of the sisters in the fight for the second section, then finish off the paper by describing their assassination. Again, this is something that should be done toward the end of the novel as to not give away the ending.

I like this idea, but as I read it I though that it would be fun to play the music as the students enter the classroom rather than dedicate an allotted time to it one day. Every day they would be able to walk into the classroom and feel like they have walked off a plane and into the Dominican Republic. Okay, so not quite, but it would be a good transition for them from the crazy high school society to a Dominican environment. Ideally, it would open their minds to learn about the plan for the day and change their mind-set. As an extra perk, it would not take up extra time, it would just be playing as the students settle in and prepare. It could possibly be a form of classroom management as well because the students will listen rather than socialize. Also, each day as the students come in, they could sit down, pull out their journal, and write about the music. At the front of their journal, questions such as the ones in the previous paragraph could be written in order to give the students ideas of how to connect the music to the novel.

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