My thesis discusses the ways in which Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) and In the Name of Salomé (2000) are revolutionary texts contesting traditional, male dominated history and redirecting historical and communal foci to the lives of Dominican women. I employ Walter Benjamin's theories found in his essays "The Storyteller" (1936) and "On the Concept of History" (1940) to assist my exploration of Alvarez's questions concerning the power and effect of storytelling, and the importance of reconstructing various historical voices and images, specifically, the importance of reconstructing female voices in male dominated cultures. I discuss the female-narrated component to Dominican history which Alvarez creates in her reconstruction of the lives of these women. Alvarez confronts the challenge of breaking these women out of their marginalized status by combining fiction with history in her reconstruction of their lives. Alvarez assumes the multifaceted role of mediator, story-teller, and historian as she remembers and re-presents Dominican history through the eyes of women who lived, experienced, and affected change within the Dominican Republic. Without merely act as a reporter of historical "facts," Alvarez reconstructs the lives of these women fictionally, applying her impressions and ideas about the personalities, feelings, and thoughts of these women, and historically, utilizing first and secondhand accounts and information about the women. Ultimately, the women are presented as individuals but are also connected to a collective memory and history. As individuals with human characteristics, the women are no longer inaccessible legends. As members of a collective memory and history, the women are redeemed from the isolating effect of their patriarchal society which would have women remain silent. Due to Alvarez's reconstruction, their stories finally have the potential for further dissemination in the future with the possibility to affect other oppressed peoples. Thus, Alvarez's reconstruction of the resistance of a few women in Dominican history produces the capacity for additional resistance by Alvarez's audience to the same forces that these women were combating which continue to exist today — forces such as patriarchy, dictatorial governments, fascism, and economic disparity.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Carlson, Nicole Marie, "Telling History Through the Stories of Women: Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies and In the Name of Salomé" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 494.
Julia Alvarez, In the Time of the Butterflies, In the Name of Salomé, Dominican Republic, women, Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller, On the Concept of History, storytelling, reconstructing history, reconstruction, history, story-teller, historian, Dominican history, collective memory, collective history, patriarchy