99 pages 3 hours read

Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1982

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Important Quotes

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“[T]he shadow of suspended vengeance has continued to hang over succeeding generations. It was the first of many acts of violence that marked the fate of the del Valle family.”

(Chapter 1, Pages 35-36)

The narrator notes this about Rosa’s accidental death, brought about by consuming poisoned brandy meant for Severo. One of the book’s earliest instances of foreshadowing, this exposition does two things: It points to the idea of vengeance carrying forward, and it sets up the story as one spanning multiple generations within a family.

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“Silence filled her utterly. She did not speak again until nine years later, when she opened her mouth to announce that she was planning to be married.”

(Chapter 1, Page 43)

Clara falls into a spell of muteness upon witnessing Rosa’s autopsy. This voluntary period of silence is the longest one she undertakes, but not the last; at different points in her life, Clara seeks out silence to conserve energy or reclaim power.

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“What you need here is a strong government, with a strong man. It would be lovely if we were all created equal, but the fact is we’re not. It couldn’t be more obvious. The only one who knows how to work around here is me, and I defy you to prove otherwise.”

(Chapter 2, Pages 72-73)

Esteban asserts these beliefs to his foreman, Pedro Segundo, when the latter suggests that Esteban give his tenants more respect and independence. Esteban’s belief that a certain social order or hierarchy is innate naturally translates into a patriarchal outlook, as well as his alignment with right-wing politics later in the story. His view on the need for strong men and governments also aligns with his eventual support of the military coup to take back power from the leftist government.