Course Hero Logo

The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The House of the Spirits Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 29 May 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, August 3). The House of the Spirits Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "The House of the Spirits Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2023.


Course Hero, "The House of the Spirits Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed May 29, 2023,

The House of the Spirits | Chapter 12 : The Conspiracy | Summary



When the presidential election finally arrives, the Socialist Party candidate wins. The response by those who despise socialism is to make a run on the banks the next morning. The leaders of the Conservative Party, including Esteban Trueba, have a secret meeting. They decide they will try to bribe members of Congress "so they won't confirm him as President," but they are not successful.

Against his will Pedro Tercero García is pressed into service as a member of the new administration. Exhausted by the long hours and disgusted that he doesn't have enough energy to make love to Blanca when she comes to him, he demands, "Either you marry me now or we never see each other again." She refuses and is shocked to discover that he meant that vow.

Following Esteban Trueba's idea to control mass media, the right keeps steady and mounting pressure on the new administration. Conservatives also use their incredible wealth to control the flow of goods in and out of the country. As goods become scarcer and scarcer, people start to panic. Without gasoline people cannot get to work, and what goods there are cannot be transported. A conveniently timed teamsters strike, initiated for political reasons rather than the cause of labor, shuts down most industries. People are hungry, tense, and prepared to fight for what they need.

Esteban Trueba is beside himself over the state of the country. He calls for a military coup before anyone else dares to speak such an idea. He amasses weapons, which he stores under lock and key at the house.

Blanca, ever the practical one, figures out how to stockpile goods and supplies. She gets them from the black market and from Tres Marías and becomes obsessive about keeping them locked up and under inventory. However, Alba figures out how to steal some of the supplies for Miguel to distribute to the hungry as he continues to try to keep people focused on the Socialist cause. Also, with Jaime, she takes many of her grandfather's weapons to a place high in the mountains where they bury them "in case they were ever needed for a nobler cause."

Amanda has made it through rehabilitation and is living a healthy life. She pours love on Jaime, but he is no longer interested in a relationship with her and feels strained by it. He begins a cautious friendship with Miguel but worries that he is "one of those fatal men possessed by a dangerous idealism."

The day finally comes when the peasants take over Tres Marías. When Esteban Trueba finds out, he travels in a rage to reclaim his property. However, the tenants take him hostage and call the media in to see their victory. The President takes action to free Esteban, but the emboldened peasants block it, so Blanca decides to act herself. Taking Alba with her, she goes to the office of Pedro Tercero, even though she has been banished from his life for two years. Alba is stunned to hear her mother's request because it is how she finally learns Pedro Tercero is her father: "Your daughter and I are going to Tres Marías to rescue the old man." Without a pause, Pedro Tercero agrees to go with them.

The tenants love and trust Pedro Tercero and allow him in to see Esteban. The women are told to sit and enjoy wine and food by the fire, and since they have known each other most of their lives, they talk about old times. Although at first those in charge do not want to release Esteban Trueba, Pedro Tercero convinces them it is the best thing to do. It is a poignant moment when he announces to the man who once tried to kill him that he is there to rescue him.

Things in the country continue to deteriorate. The President shows signs of giving up. Clearly something must change. Alba grows worried that violence is ahead and that Miguel will die in it. Then one evening Louisa Mora, the only Mora sister still alive, visits the big house on the corner. She warns Esteban Trueba that dreadful times were coming and that although he will win, "victory will only bring you suffering and loneliness." To Alba she delivers a message from Clara: "Death is at your heels ... it would be wise for you to take a trip." Esteban loses his patience and dismisses these dire predictions.


"The balloting proceeded without incident on a shining September morning"—this statement at the beginning of the chapter presents situational irony, since the peacefulness it suggests will soon be shattered. Amid all the turbulence following the election, however, it is reassuring to see examples of real tenderness between those who love each other and those who choose to forgive each other: Blanca and Pedro Tercero, Pedro Tercero and Esteban Trueba, and Alba and Esteban Trueba. The specialness of the third relationship, granddaughter-grandfather, is clearest at the moment when Esteban Trueba is led out of Tres Marías, looking old and dejected, until the words Alba whispers in his ear give him back his dignity and allow him to look proudly at the cameras and smile. It is reminiscent of the day when Alba calls up the dignity of her grandfather to look Esteban García directly in the eye and imperiously demands to be taken home.

As the capital city reaches its worst state, Allende uses graffiti on a wall to make a reference to an event in Indonesia that some readers might not fully comprehend. The word Djakarta is an alternative spelling for Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. In 1965 that city was the site of mass killings. Hundreds of thousands of people identified as Communists were massacred following a military takeover of the country. So the reference should serve as a warning that something similar is about to happen in this capital city.

Other examples of foreshadowing of the coming violence include General Hurtado's statement very soon after the election that the military can solve the problem should other efforts fail. Another very small reference is easy to miss, when Jaime is described as "preoccupied and more or less continued to be until the day they killed him." Who is the "they" who will take his life? Readers might recall a hint in the previous chapter when Jaime's close relationship with the Candidate is described and a coming "final hour" between the two of them is mentioned that will occur in the middle of a "din of fire and bullets." Also, when Pedro Tercero tells Esteban Trueba he has come to rescue him and Esteban responds "Go to hell," Pedro Tercero's response is "That's where we're going." Finally, the chapter ends with the warnings of Luisa Mora, Esteban Trueba's dismissal of them, and then this eerie statement: "Ten months and eleven days later ... they took Alba away in the middle of the night."

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The House of the Spirits? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!