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The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits | Chapter 14 : The Hour of Truth | Summary



Alba's torture at the hands of Esteban García is described in detail. What they say want from her is the whereabouts of Miguel—which of course she does not know. But Alba understands that what Esteban García really wants is "to avenge himself for injuries that had been inflicted on him from birth."

Alba uses the training received from Uncle Nicolás to help her survive. She also recalls the best days of her life to escape the reality of what is happening to her. One thing that lifts her is the companionship of Ana Díaz, also a prisoner, whose strength and advice are invaluable. When Ana loses the baby she is carrying, Alba gives her some of the comfort she has received from Ana.

When Alba is thrown into solitary confinement because Esteban García catches himself caressing her rather than torturing her, she nearly dies and her mind is completely detached from reality. Clara visits her and tells her to start "writing in her mind ... to keep her thoughts occupied."

Esteban Trueba, frantic to find his granddaughter, visits Tránsito Soto and ask for her help. She has converted the Christopher Columbus from a brothel to a place for secret liaisons, and so she has access to many of the powerful men in government who bring their lovers there for illicit trysts. He tells her the whole story and then begs for her help: "I can give you anything you ask for, anything, so long as you find my granddaughter Alba." Two days later, Tránsito Soto calls to tell him she has done what he asked.


It is difficult to read the details of Alba's violent torture. Readers should recall her strength, however, first made evident when she came up against Esteban García just a few years before. Her strength and resolve have only grown since then. The worst thing is that she is having to pay for the sins of her grandfather much more than for any of her own actions. To endure such suffering seems doubly difficult given that fact, but her love for her grandfather is steady and true, and as has been seen so often in the novel, real love and healthy relationships are invaluable. Clara, too, comes to her and offers help when she so desperately needs it, proving that love and the gifts given to you by a loved one do not end when someone dies.

Allende also emphasizes how community is the main thing that keeps the prisoners alive. When thrown into isolation, Alba nearly dies. But even when given the worst torture or witnessing the most despicable actions, when she has Ana Diáz and others, she can survive anything.

The fact that Tránsito Soto is happy help Esteban Trueba because she wants to return the huge favor he did for her so long ago reminds readers of the importance of loyalty. Esteban Trueba has always prized loyalty and has learned that it is a rare trait.

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