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The House Of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

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  • Pages: 9
  • Word count: 2026
  • Category: Novel

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Q1. Explain the mystery surrounding Uncle Marcos’ death.

A1. Uncle Marcos, Clara’s maternal uncle was an adventurer and an explorer, who stayed with the Del Valle family in between his trips. Just as many of the other characters in the novel possess eccentric and unique characteristics, Uncle Marcos’ travels were also very unusual. In fact, it is these travels that actually caused his death, not once but twice over. The first time, Marcos had assembled a flying contraption in which he had sailed off over the mountains. However, after a week of his take-off, there was still no word from him and he completely disappeared, due to which speculations about his death started rising.

These were confirmed when a group of volunteer explorers succeeded in finding his corpse. Uncle Marcos’ body was sealed in a black coffin and he was laid to rest in an elaborate funeral and so he departed from the world, being hailed as a hero. However, just one week after he had been buried, Uncle Marcos reappeared, as thanks to all the prayers made to San Antonio, although he had lost his airplane, he was safe and well. This did not deter him and he again set out on a journey on a ship for 60 days, which indeed was his last one, as he returned back in a coffin, again. This time it was said that he had died of a mysterious African plague that had turned him yellow and wrinkled. He succumbed to the fever and died at the latitude of Guayaquil. However, his sister Nivea could not believe that he was truly dead, as his death was indeed a mysterious one.

Q2. Comment on Esteban’s feelings for Rosa.

A2. Rosa, the most beautiful creature anyone had ever seen, with her incredible green hair, her fairy tale manner and her special way of swaying around, instantly captured Esteban Trueba’s heart. As is quoted in the novel by Esteban himself; ‘she entered my life like a distracted angel who stole my soul as she went by’. Esteban had been completely mesmerized by her beauty, the very first time he saw her. He immediately started following her around everywhere and tried to woo her by love letters, flowers and innumerable boxes of licorice drops. Such was the magic of her enchanted beauty that a man like Esteban, who never really ran after women, tried every possible way to win her affection, even sending her Spanish poetry. After seeing Rosa, Esteban’s life completely transformed, as he constantly lived in a world of dreams.

With help from Nana and his sister Ferula, Esteban was finally able to meet Rosa and he became her official suitor. The fact that he was brave enough to ask for her hand also throws light on his strong feelings for Rosa, because no other man had felt strong enough to spend his life protecting her from other men’s desires. In fact his love for her was so strong, that he was ready to do anything, even risk his life, in order to provide her with everything that she ever desired. It was almost as if Rosa gave his life a new direction and a new meaning. Thus, he worked tirelessly, spurred on by his love for Rosa. However, this relationship had a tragic end, as Rosa died due to accidentally being poisoned. But Esteban had developed such strong feelings for her that even years after her death, her memories in his mind lived on.

Q3. Comment on the effect of Rosa’s death on Clara and Esteban.

A3. Rosa’s accidental death, due to being poisoned, changed the lives of all her loved ones, but two people in particular who were severely affected by her death were Clara, her sister and Esteban, her fianc�. Esteban had been greatly affected by her death because he had incredibly strong and deep feelings for her and hoped to spend the rest of his life with her. Therefore, it came as a great shock to him, when she passed away suddenly just a short time before their wedding. On the other hand, Clara, her sister had also been deeply affected by her death, because she herself had predicted the death due to her clairvoyant powers.

Esteban first learnt of his fianc�e’s death from a telegram sent to him by his sister Ferula. At that moment, he had actually been writing a letter to Rosa and so he was completely shattered. He just couldn’t accept the fact that someone as beautiful as Rosa could even be mortal. He had never in his wildest dreams thought of Rosa’s death and now he felt as if his life had no meaning anymore. All that he had managed to accomplish for Rosa in all these years finally was irrelevant and his sacrifices, his hard work were of no importance anymore. He lost all his enthusiasm and was completely enraged and frustrated.

He had been so grief stricken and sad, that although he had vivid memories of Rosa’s beauty, he couldn’t remember anything from her funeral. He was distraught, as death had stolen Rosa away from him. They were meant to be together, but destiny had something else in store for them. That night he spent near Rosa’s grave was indeed the longest in his life. He regretted every moment he spent away from her and this incurable despair that she had left him with was indeed going to change his life forever. Thus, it was a very tragic end to a beautiful relationship that could have been, and to overcome all the grief that Rosa’s death had caused him, he left his past behind him and departed for Tres Marias, where he hoped to rebuild his future, and attempt to live a life without his beloved.

Clara, Rosa’s sister, had been there all the while when her sister died, during her autopsy and at the time of her funeral. She went through all of this at a very young age and so it had a deep impact on her. Clara had used her clairvoyance to predict Rosa’s death and hence, she was consumed by guilt, because she felt that her sister had passed away because she had foreseen the event of her death. She firmly believed that her magical powers had indeed caused her sister’s death. She felt extremely lonely and all that she wanted was to be with her sister, Rosa.

Moreover, Clara had witnessed the spectacle of Rosa’s autopsy being carried out in the kitchen. Too young to understand such implications, Clara saw Dr.Cuevas as a dark, fat vampire; somewhat trying to exploit her sister and causing harm to someone who had already been dead. She felt completely helpless as she saw what was happening till the very end. She felt within her, the silence of the entire world, something that would stay on for a long time to come. Thus, frightened by her own prediction and shocked at the sight of the autopsy being carried out, Clara stopped speaking until nine years later.

Thus, Rosa’s death early on in the novel and its effect on the two main characters Clara and Esteban, actually give the reader a foresight in to the events that are to take place in the future. Clara indeed breaks her silence only to announce her marriage to Esteban and hence, Rosa’s death actually shapes a future in which Clara and Esteban are meant to be together.

Q4. How did Esteban labor to turn Tres Marias into a success story?

A4. It was true that Esteban’s life had changed forever after Rosa’s death. Nothing that he had done, achieved or accomplished mattered to him anymore. However, Esteban still had his aging mother and sister to look after and provide for. Moreover, he also needed to begin a new life, a life without his beloved Rosa and he most certainly couldn’t go back to the mines to do that. Hence, Esteban Trueba went back to his roots, to his family home Tres Marias, which he hoped to rescue and rebuild. Esteban’s childhood had been one full of misery, privatons, discomfort, harshness, fear and guilt and so he wished to erase all these bitter memories by helping restore Tres Marias, a place which was in dire need of help and where people desperately needed someone to lead and guide them. When Esteban first set foot into Tres Marias, he felt lonelier than ever.

The place, completely desolated, was in ruins as half the tiles on the roof were broken; vines had grown through the windows, which were completely black with soot and it looked almost like a haunted house. Esteban also found that in the years gone by, most of the peasants had left the place, and those who were left behind practically survived on the property. Thus, he quickly won the respect of all the peasants, the women and the children and motivated them highly in order to get them back to work and start rebuilding the property. He spent all the money that he had saved for his marriage on this task. He organized the peasants into groups and assigned them work to do.

He bought books and himself read them and imparted knowledge to the uneducated about everything they needed to know about wood cutting and other works. They did the plumbing, fixed the roofs, whitewashed the house and cleaned it inside, out and even rescued old fields. It was certainly not an easy life for Esteban, but he was determined and ambitious and so all his labour turned Tres Marias in to a success story, a moneymaking estate and a model hacienda. Although this meant neglecting his own personal life, Esteban succeeded in mending his broken heart, by devoting his life to uplifting his family hacienda, Tres Marias, which in turn would continue to bring him great prosperity in the years to come.

Q5. Comment on Dr.Cuevas’ reatment to cure Clara’s muteness.

A5. One of the major effects of Rosa’s death on her sister Clara’s life was the silence that filled her being for nine long years after her death, when she first saw the spectacle of Rosa’s autopsy being carried. During this period, Clara’s family had been greatly distressed by the child’s muteness, as she remained isolated and completely disconnected from the rest of the world. They worried that Clara would have an abnormal upbringing as she was even removed from her school. Thus, the family turned to Dr.Cuevas to treat her. Dr.Cuevas, tried every mixture and medicine to fulfill the difficult task. He attempted to treat her with pills of his own devising, with vitamins in syrup and throat swabbing with borax honey, but all these efforts were made in vain and turned out to be futile as Clara did not respond to any of these and remained mute.

However, more than helping her, his very presence induced a state of terror in her, as she ran away and hid as soon as she saw him. The family then tried other means to get her to speak, but all were useless. The Romanian Rostipov was also called to examine her, but the only conclusion he could draw was that the child did not speak, because she did not have a desire to do so. Thereby, Nana, Clara’s nanny tried several tricks to frighten her and thus, get her to speak and Dr.Cuevas even suggested the idea of old baths and electric shocks for her treatment, which he had brought from Europe.

Her mother tried narrating stories to her, but none of these worked, and for nine long years, Clara Del Valle remained in the same state, silent and mute, in her own world. When she got married to Esteban, even though she started speaking, she still had those phases during her marriage, when she would suddenly go mute without an apparent reason. It is then when Esteban actually realized that silence was his wife’s last refuge and not a mental illness, as Dr.Cuevas had suggested it was.

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