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IB English: Assignment 2

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Introduction

A key passage in Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits is the series of events that occurs when Count Jean de Satigny reveals Blanca Trueba's affair with Pedro Tercero Garc�a and consequential events. This is one of the main places that many characters' personalities, namely the count, Esteban Trueba, and Clara, are developed and explored more in depth. An underlying element of the novel's style, consistent point-of-view shifts, is also demonstrated here and used to great effect. We also see an illustration of the novel's main themes of emphasis on family values and class tensions. The passage opens with the count, who decides to follow Blanca one night and discovers her affair with Pedro Tercero. He then goes immediately to Esteban Trueba and tells him of his discovery, successfully enraging him, which he sees as "the best means for solving the problem" (Allende 198). In the ensuing chaos he seizes the opportunity "to pack his bags, yoke the horses to his carriage, and leave discreetly for the hotel in town" (200). His actions in this situation reveal his true character, often contrary to the way the "natives" had seen him (198). ...read more.

Middle

He is shown as violent and vengeful, constantly verbalizing threats to the life of Pedro Tercero: "'I'm going to kill them both,' he muttered over and over, like a litany" (199). He is shown to be "unable to restrain his evil character" while "beating her (Blanca) mercilessly, lash upon lash, until the girl fell flat and rigid to the ground" and "shouting every insult known to man plus others he made up in the heat of the moment," perhaps even suggesting that he is schizophrenic (199). However, Allende is very quick to avoid illustrating him as an evil character and shows that he immediately changes heart after Blanca refuses to tell him who her perpetrator is and even realizes that she has "inherited her own stubbornness" and that "he had gotten carried away with his punishment" (199). He shows nearly the same reaction when Clara later suggests to him that Pedro is the same as Esteban, sleeping with unmarried women. He then loses control and consequently strikes her in the face. When she falls to the floor, he "[seems] to [awaken] from a trance," (200) ...read more.

Conclusion

She, calm and unruffled as ever, points out that Esteban did the same as Pedro Tercero when he was younger, sleeping with "unmarried women not of [his] own class" (200) and, infuriating him even further, asserts that Pedro Tercero did it for love, unlike Esteban had. After Esteban strikes her, she is still calm and does not speak, and she retains her dignity, "trying to walk as erect as she could" (201). Similarly stubborn as always, Clara never speaks "to her husband again" (201) and leaves Tres Mar�as immediately with Blanca. This passage also illustrates two themes of the novel: the importance of family and the emphasis on class. After Clara and Blanca's departure, Esteban realizes how empty his life is without his family, and longs for his old life, surrounded by loved ones. Consequently, he condemns Pedro Tercero for ruining his relationships with them by sleeping with his daughter, who is of higher class than he. This is the main class conflict in the passage. Allende uses this passage to great effect, enlightening the reader to the natures of several main characters in the novel and also effectively demonstrating the cultural emphasis on families and class boundaries. We also see stylistic elements of the novel that help reveal the different facets of Esteban Trueba's personality. ...read more.

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