Butterfly Burning Symbols & Objects

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Getrude’s Green Dress

Getrude’s green dress symbolizes the limited opportunities available to women as well as the pressure that women face to conform to conventional gender roles. By rejecting the dress, Phephelaphi rejects her past and clears the emotional space she needs to pursue a different life for herself.

The Name “Getrude”

Phephelaphi’s mother’s name, "Getrude," symbolizes her mother’s rebellious nature. Though “Getrude” is of course a misspelling of “Gertrude,” it is also a coy symbol to the reader that Phephelaphi’s mother knows how to “get rude” and defend herself.

The Name “Emelda”

The name “Emelda” symbolizes Getrude’s unsavory past and her willingness to sacrifice her identity to survive in her society. The white police officer believes that Getrude’s name is “Emelda” because that is the name she uses as a sex worker. Thus, the name is also a...

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This section contains 511 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Butterfly Burning Study Guide
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