Summary: Epilogue

Dedé’s story switches to first person narration in the Epilogue. She tells about the many visitors who came to tell her what they remembered from the day her sisters were killed. From their stories, she pieces together what happened, how her sisters’ Jeep was ambushed over the pass on their way home from prison that evening. Dedé identifies the bodies at the morgue and washes them for burial. After the sisters’ husbands are released from prison, they tell Dedé they had tried to talk them out of traveling home that night.

The murderers’ trial reveals more information. Three murderers confess to killing one each of the three sisters. A fourth confesses to killing Rufino, while a fifth kept watch on the road. After killing the sisters, they put them in the jeep and pushed it over a cliff. 

Fast forward to 1994, and Dedé is now the oracle of the story of the Mirabal sisters. A friend encourages her to build her own life, to stop living in the past. Dedé insists that telling the story helps her understand. She recounts how the sisters’ husbands moved on with their lives, though Manolo died fighting in yet another revolution after Trujillo was assassinated by some of his own men. When Mamá died after guiding her grandchildren through their teenage years, Dede tells us the “list of losses” was complete. Dedé and Jaimito divorce, and Dedé survives breast cancer. 

As Dedé’s story comes its conclusion, she’s won another prize trip at work. On last year’s trip to Barcelona, she had met a man from Canada. So this year, she will travel to Canada to find him, to find love.

Analysis: Epilogue

The epilogue of the book tells the story of life after the assassination of the Butterflies—their transformation from real people to heroes and stories—using the theme of pilgrimage. In the beginning of the chapter, Dedé is visited in turn by all the people who saw her sisters on their last day of life and who witnessed their deaths. Jaimito tells her that her martyrdom is to be alive without her sisters, and hearing these stories seems to be part of the suffering that transforms her from just their sister to the keeper of their legacies, as if the pain of hearing the stories gives her a sanctity. The people who come are described as if on pilgrimage to a holy person or place, walking for many miles in some cases just to tell the story, as Dedé will now dedicate the rest of her life to telling it.

In this chapter, Dedé ties up the loose ends of the stories of the other family members by counting losses. Alvarez builds a counterpoint of the ephemeral things the coroner listed as found with the dead Butterflies, like purses and receipts and lottery tickets, with the deaths and desertions of the husbands of the sisters. This juxtaposition suggests that the objects are themselves only representative of the enormous loss of her sisters, a loss that sets in motion the loss of the family as a cohesive whole. Even when she presses her hand to her heart, she feels the foam taking the place of the breast she has lost to cancer.