The eldest of the Mirabal sisters, later Mariposa #3. Maternal and devout, Patria considers becoming a nun but, after a sexual awakening, marries instead. She remains driven both by deep spirituality and by bodily desire. She believes her Christian duty as a mother and wife extends to protecting revolutionaries and others threatened by Trujillo.

Read an in-depth analysis of Patria.


The second Mirabal sister and the only one who does not formally join the resistance. Pragmatic and grounded, Dedé is chosen by Papá to run the family’s store. Although teased for being relatively ungenerous to outsiders, Dedé devotes herself to the family, eventually raising her fallen sisters’ children and dedicating her life to ensuring their legacy as heroes.

Read an in-depth analysis of Dedé.


The third Mirabal sister and the first to join the resistance, later Mariposa #1. Brilliant, principled, and bold, Minerva dreams of being a lawyer and advocates for the education of her sisters and women in general. Throughout her life, she seeks freedom. Her defiance of Trujillo’s sexual advances leads to Papá’s imprisonment and ultimately the regime’s hostility towards the whole family. 

Read an in-depth analysis of Minerva.

María Teresa or Mate

The youngest of the Mirabals, later Mariposa #2. María Teresa’s diary entries show the daily life of the Mirabal family and María Teresa’s growth from a cheerful and flighty young girl to a committed revolutionary.

Read an in-depth analysis of Mate.


The mother of the Mirabal sisters. Strong-minded, with traditional ideas about women’s roles that shift over time.


The wealthy landowner and father of the Mirabal sisters and a second set of daughters with Carmen María. Despite wishing for a son, he is devoted to and protective of his daughters.


A “gringa dominicana” – an American Dominican – who visits Dedé to learn about the Butterflies.

Rafael Trujillo

Also called El Jefe and Chapita. A cruel, domineering man and the dictator of the Dominican Republic.


Patria’s husband, a farmer. He “adores” Patria “like he does this rich soil we are standing on” and is imprisoned for colluding against Trujillo.

Nelson, Noris, and Raúl Ernesto

The children of Patria and Pedrito. Nelson is imprisoned and later pardoned by Trujillo.


Dedé’s husband and cousin. Driven by machismo, he seeks to control Dedé, refusing to let her join her sisters in the movement.

Jaime Enrique, Jaime Rafael, and Jaime David

The sons of Dedé and Jaimito.


The husband of Minerva. Charismatic and warm, he is first a law student and later a leader of the resistance.

Minou and Manolito

The children of Minerva and Manolo. Minou appears as a baby and young child while her parents are alive and as an adult in 1994.


The husband of María Teresa, also called Palomino. An engineer and revolutionary, Leandro is imprisoned for his role in the movement.


The daughter of María Teresa and Leandro.

Lina Lovatón

A student at Immaculada Concepción who becomes one of Trujillo’s girlfriends.


A long-time servant of the Mirabals’, who tells the girls’ fortunes and later relays messages from their spirits.


A brave school friend of Minerva, also called Sina. As an adult, she is imprisoned with Minerva and María Teresa.

Elsa and Lourdes

The school friends of Minerva.


A young doctor and revolutionary who falls in love with Minerva, known as Lío.


A kind and protective driver killed along with the Butterflies. 

Captain Peña

The regional head of the SIM, the secret police. Lascivious and arrogant, he seeks to manipulate the Mirabals into begging him for favors. He oversees the killing of the Mariposas and Rufino.


The oldest of Papá’s illegitimate daughters, who as an adult helps the family pass letters and goods to Minerva and María Teresa in prison.


Margarita’s cousin, a prison guard who is kind to Minerva and María Teresa.

The Young Soldier

A hitchhiker Rufino and the Butterflies pick up on their drive to visit the men. 

Dr. Pedro Viñas

A doctor and revolutionary.