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"Compare and explore the notion of 'status' and 'power' in No One Writes to the Colonel and The House of Spirits"

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"Compare and explore the notion of 'status' and 'power' in No One Writes to the Colonel and The House of Spirits" Latin America has a history, in only the previous century, of being an area of the world where dreams are kindled by revolutionaries talking of long away countries where democracy can work. Detached from the rest of the world, it gives the impression of a parallel universe - or so it would seem from the allusions created between the countries in The House of Spirits and No One Writes to the Colonel and the real countries of Chile and Columbia. In these two tales, the notion of status and power play a very big part, not least because of the role they have to play in South American history. In a land where governments are fickle and most families have lost someone to a revolution in the past, South America - and in particular Chile and Columbia - are heavily involved in politics. The House of Spirits and No One Writes to the Colonel deal with political themes in two very different ways, although there are certain similarities. An achievement of both writers is masking their political themes slightly - The House of Spirits follows several plot lines, and most of the book covers non-political events with politics very much an undercurrent of the main plot - that of a family saga. However, at the climax, politics is driven swiftly to the fore with terrible and tragic results. ...read more.


Socialism in The House of Spirits and No One Writes to the Colonel is much more achievable than communism, and many of the characters, particularly in The House of Spirits, are socialists - even some of the upper class characters such as the del Valle family and Jaime are strong supporters of socialism - Jaime in particular devotes his entire life to helping the poor and sick. This is an interesting display of social class, as the author doesn't paint a black and white picture of classes. Jaime almost seems to wish to atone for being born into the upper class, which is hardly surprising considering the sentiments of his father - "you're a hopeless loser, son" he tells Jaime, "you have no sense of reality" - sadly, this proves to be accurate by the end of the novel. Fate cruelly plays with Jaime, and after devoting his life to helping others he is killed by the fascist regime his father helped install. I believe that Jaime symbolises socialism more than any other character in the book. His desire to help others above all, his kind, gentle nature and his almost monk-like lifestyle seem to embody the core socialist ideals. Other characters, like Pedro Tercero or Miguel have other reasons aside from their socialist ideals that drive them - love for Blanca and hatred for conservatism and fascism retrospectively, but Jaime chooses to give up everything save that which he needs to help others. He believes that "helping one's neighbour is a value that exists." ...read more.


Gradually, she too gets drawn into the world of politics. She quickly becomes shrewd in this media, to the extent that even Esteban Trueba praises her for her political mind - "my granddaughter Alba, however, saw the true nature of the dictator long before I did." However, even as Alba has gained the respect of one of the most sexist males in the novel as a person, and not just his granddaughter, her new found equality is taken away from her. By being taken to a prison camp, all that the three women have strived for seems to be lost, it seems that the chain will end with Alba. Although she survives, the country, and the socialist dream, is in ruins. Compared to No One Writes to the Colonel, women are presented in a favourable light - whilst I don't believe that The House of Spirits is mainly a book about women, I believe that Clara and Alba in particular are very important characters. In contrast, No One Writes to the Colonel presents the wife of the Colonel, the main female character, as somewhat of an obstacle in the way of socialism. She is portrayed as practical but not at all aware of the bigger picture. I think that status and power are presented quite differently in The House of Spirits and No One Writes to the Colonel. They are both political novels, but neither chiefly so - The House of Spirits has a fatalism theme and No One Writes to the Colonel possesses an individualism theme, other themes can also be found in both stories. ...read more.

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