Creating the Novel "Before We Were Free" with the help of Anne Frank

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Gurley, Ines
Julia Alvarez’s book titled *Before We Were Free* is a story told from a 1st person perspective focalized through an adolescent girl named Anita. Alvarez uses this young girl to tell the story of what it was like in the Dominican Republic during the Rafael Leonidas Trujillo dictatorship. This essay argues that Alvarez chose to model her protagonist, Anita, in the book *Before We Were Free* after Anne Frank in order to help her young readers understand the history and politics during that time in the Dominican Republic, as well as, emotionally reach desensitized adult readers who may otherwise be too distanced by time, culture and location to understand or care about the Dominican Republic’s history with Trujillo. From the two girls’ names being the same to using a diary to tell what life is like living in fear, this essay proves that there are many similarities between Anne Frank and Alvarez’s character Anita. Alvarez’s version of a “Spanish Anne Frank” creates an emotional connection for her readers to the real life heroine. This essay goes on to demonstrate that the reason why Alvarez would use a child’s voice is because a historical narrative through a child’s perspective is more poignant. Thus her readers are shown that war and political revolutions come with a great price – the loss of childhood innocence.
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