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The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits | Chapter 8 : The Count | Summary



Now readers catch up with what is happening in Blanca's life, details of which can be filled in because Blanca and Clara regularly exchanged letters.

On their wedding night, Blanca is relieved when her new husband announces to her that he is not expecting a sexual relationship. The next day, they leave for the north where they settle into an old mansion that Jean de Satigny has chosen. He fixes it up, and decorates it to his extravagant taste. Blanca lives a boring, lazy life. She is not comfortable in the house, and the servants Satigny hires are creepy and seem to mock her, but she feels mostly peaceful.

Satigny stays busy spending Esteban Trueba's money, and he begins a business dealing in Incan artifacts. Blanca tries to continue making her crèches but Satigny is not supportive of that endeavor, and she doesn't have the energy anyway as the months of her pregnancy slide by.

Blanca's peacefulness ends abruptly when she decides to investigate the source of strange noises she hears in the night. She is fearful the mummies which are a part of the relics Jean collects are coming to life. She traces the activity to the room Jean keeps locked and has asked her not to enter: his photography room. So she sends away the servant who always hovers in the background, breaks the lock, and enters. She is stunned to find sexually explicit photographs of the servants in strange poses. She leaves by train that same day, which is very close to her time of delivery, determined to get her unborn baby home to the big house on the corner, away from the debauchery of Jean de Satigny.


Readers should be reaching the understanding that this story is only possible because someone (the narrator) has access to Clara's notebooks, family letters, and family memories. The importance of writing things down in order to preserve history is a theme in the novel.

Questions that the reader had about the identity of Alba at the end of Chapter 7 are quickly answered in Chapter 8. Blanca will be coming home to deliver her baby, who will be named Alba. The rest of the chapter explains the reason for that, and it is probably not too surprising. Again the thread of characters' sexuality matching their personalities is reinforced.

It is also not surprising that Esteban Trueba explodes in anger the day after the wedding when Blanca returns to the big house to say goodbye to her mother. Once again, he is more worried about his reputation than about family.

Given the fact that Blanca has been steeped in spiritual, other-worldly beliefs since childhood—even though she herself is quite practical—it is not surprising that she worries about mummies coming to life. In the world of magical realism, anything is possible, and the reality of what she finds instead is far more upsetting than anything she was exposed to in the big house on the corner. That safe place is where she chooses to flee to with her unborn child.

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