44 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Allende

A Long Petal of the Sea

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2019

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Themes

Exile and Belonging

Displaced from their homeland not once but twice by war and a military coup, Victor and Roser experience exile and the difficulties of emigrating to a new culture and land. They, like all the Republican refugees in the Spanish Civil War, have absolutely no choice but to leave their home country. They are fleeing for their lives. Likewise, Victor’s experience in the Chilean concentration camp demonstrates the danger that faces the progressives who remain in Chile during the Pinochet regime. Through these characters, Allende depicts the pain of separation from one’s homeland. All their relationships, including their ties to their native culture and community, are severed.

Once exiled, refugees often face hostility, as Victor and Roser do. The French certainly do not want them and treat them brutally. Their first hurdle is to find a new home, someplace willing to accept them. When they do, they form an immediate appreciation for and attachment to Chile and its people. To be sure, there are many in Chile who are hostile toward them. As immigrants, they must prove their worth more so than those born in the country. Victor and Roser, like so many of the Spanish immigrants, are more than happy to do so.

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