49 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Allende


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Symbols & Motifs


Throughout the novel, nature and the beauty of the natural world is a motif illustrating important contrasts and juxtapositions, such as those between the Indigenous people and the Europeans, and even between different periods in Diego’s life. Throughout the novel, various characters marvel at the beauty of the natural world. Alejandro is “awed by the magnificence of nature” (20) as he travels to Monterey to plead on behalf of Regina. Later, Diego and Bernardo spend much of their childhood exploring the countryside around the de la Vega hacienda, especially the sacred Indigenous caves. The natural world comes to represent the untouched beauty of a world disappearing beneath the onslaught of European colonialism as the Spanish settlers continue expanding their holdings and pushing the Indigenous people into increasingly distant locales.

When Diego and Bernardo reach Spain, the presence of the natural world recedes and is replaced by sprawling cities such as Barcelona, “proud and massive against a leaden sky accented with turrets, towers, and walls” (110). But Diego ultimately returns to where began his life, always appreciating the different manifestations of the natural world that he encounters along the way, from the green landscapes of northern Spain to the enchanting swamps of the bayou.