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The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits | Characters

Character Description
Esteban Trueba Esteban Trueba is at the center of the family saga, living such a long life that he knows each generation involved and appears throughout the novel as a first-person narrator. Bad-tempered, violent, and powerful politically and socially, he offends many people and is slow to change from the "old ways." Read More
Clara Clara is the youngest child of the prominent del Valle family and is born with mental powers that allow her to foresee events, talk to the spirit world, and make things happen just by thinking. She marries Esteban Trueba without loving him and stays mostly detached from him, pursuing her spiritual interests and focusing on their three children and granddaughter. Read More
Blanca Blanca is the first-born child of Esteban Trueba and Clara and is rarely apart from her mother. She falls deeply in love with Pedro Tercero at a young age and remains committed to their love affair throughout her life. Read More
Alba Alba is the illegitimate daughter of Blanca and Pedro Tercero and dearly loved by all of the Trueba family. Like her mother, she begins an illicit love affair at a young age but remains committed to her family and to writing the story that she turns out to be the narrator of. Read More
Pedro Tercero Pedro Tercero is the son of the Tres Marías foreman (Pedro Segundo); he falls deeply in love with Blanca when they are quite young. He becomes a Socialist and a popular singer but maintains a relationship with Blanca and their daughter. Read More
Adriana Adriana is a prisoner in a women's concentration camp where Alba is taken after nearly dying in jail at the hand of Esteban García. Adriana is there with her children but has lost her mind, so the other women help care for the children.
Miss Agatha Miss Agatha is a governess brought in from England by Severo del Valle to educate Clara, but she cannot endure the hot weather, spicy food, and Clara's clairvoyance and so returns home.
Amanda Amanda is the bohemian girlfriend of Nicolás who aborts his child with the help of Jaime. She raises her younger brother Miguel but ends up being a drug addict; nevertheless, she refuses to betray him and dies in prison.
Andrés Andrés is one of the young Socialist militants and the boyfriend of Alba's friend Ana Díaz. The three of them are in jail together when Alba is first arrested and tortured by Esteban García.
Cousin Antonieta In trying to win the affection of his cousin Antonieta, Uncle Marcos buys a barrel organ and serenades her, but she is unimpressed, and the embarrassed family forces him to give up the barrel organ. Antonieta soon marries a much older diplomat who takes her to a tropical country.
Getulio Armando Getulio Armando swindles Severo del Valle out of half his fortune. Clara predicted it would happen and tried to warn her father, but he did not believe her.
Assistant The assistant is a young man who assists Dr. Cuevas in the autopsy on Rosa. He is so struck by her beauty that he kisses her and treats her as tenderly as a bride.
Big Cuckold Big Cuckold is an excellent car mechanic who nevertheless cannot figure out how to fix the brakes on the del Valles' family car, a beautiful Sunbeam that they name Covadonga.
Big Cuckold's wife Big Cuckold's wife is responsible for her husband's nickname. Unable to make him jealous, she leaves him and vengefully ties rams' horns on the fence around his shop, which makes him a laughingstock because rams' horns symbolically represent a cheating wife.
Boy When Alba is freed from prison and deposited in an empty lot, a boy appears and motions for her to follow him. He and his mother bring her into their home, feed her, and then take her to a carriage that drives her home to the big house.
Mr. Brown Mr. Brown is hired by Esteban Trueba to try to rid Tres Marías of a terrible ant problem, but he is unable to come up with a solution that will work quickly enough.
Caretaker The caretaker of the cemetery where Rosa is buried tries to get Esteban Trueba to leave on the night of her funeral, but Trueba explodes at him and gives him money to let him stay.
Candy man One of the unnamed men in the van with Clara when she is removed from prison. He gives her a piece of candy and reassuring words.
The Candidate Allende refers to the Socialist Party candidate for president who succeeds in getting elected only as the Candidate. After his election, she refers to him as the President.
Carmelo Carmelo is the homosexual member of the brothel near Tres Marías known as the Red Lantern.
Cook The cook at Blanca and Jean de Satigny's house is extremely fat, and Blanca thinks that she deliberately does hateful things toward her. When Blanca discovers her husband's lewd photographs, the naked cook is among the subjects.
Dr. Cuevas Dr. Cuevas is the family doctor for the del Valle family and later delivers Clara's children.
Ana Díaz Ana Díaz is a fellow student Socialist activist at the university with Miguel and Alba. When Alba is put into prison, Ana is also there and is able to keep Alba's spirits elevated with her courage and strength.
The Dictator When the Socialist president is killed in the coup and the government falls, the person who comes to power is called the Dictator by Allende. Most agree that he is a fictional representative of Chile's dictator, Augusto Pinochet.
Driver As Clara is about to deliver the twins and learns of her parents' death and her mother's decapitation and lost head, she makes Férula take her to find the head. The driver follows her instructions to the place where the head has rolled under some bushes, and he retrieves it, vomiting.
Férula Férula is Esteban Trueba's sister who lives a life in service to others, especially their sick mother and Clara. When Esteban banishes her from the big house, jealous of the relationship she has with his wife, Férula lives a sad life of poverty, religious severity, and service.
Friend 1 Late in life, after Clara's death, when Esteban Trueba has very few friends left, he visits a brothel with two of them. The first of them shocks him by selecting a young man to have sex with.
Friend 2 Late in life, after Clara's death, when Esteban Trueba has very few friends left, he visits a brothel with two of them. The second of them surprises him by selecting a woman posing as a slave to have sex with.
French tutor A pretty, sweet young girl from France that Severo del Valle hires to tutor Clara is impregnated by Clara's older brother Luis. Severo forces them to marry, and they ended up having a happy marriage.
Esteban García Esteban García is the sociopathic child born of the first peasant woman Esteban Trueba forces himself on. This is the only bastard child he ever acknowledges as his own. Esteban García has a deep hatred of the patron that leads him to rape and torture Alba once he becomes a police officer.
Pancha García Pancha García, the peasant girl who is 15 years old when Esteban Trueba rapes her and takes her as his concubine, bears a son by him and names him Esteban. She is the daughter of the Tres Marías foreman, but Esteban Trueba discards her just like the other peasant girls he claims.
Pedro García Pedro García is an old man when Esteban Trueba first arrives at Tres Marías, but his wisdom is invaluable. For example, he rids the property of ants and sets all of Esteban Trueba's bones after he is buried in the huge earthquake.
Pedro Segundo García Pedro Segundo García is the only young man left at Tres Marías when Esteban Trueba arrives to restore the property and becomes the invaluable foreman that helps Trueba bring the estate back to its former glory.
Sebastián Gómez A professor at the university, Sebastián Gómez joins the students in their protests and other activities as Socialists. He is a tireless ideologue, despite his age and physical handicaps, and gives Alba the teasing nickname "Countess."
Honorio Honorio is the del Valle gardener who followed young Clara's dream interpretation advice and won 80 pesos. He spread the news, and soon she was kept busy interpreting people's dreams.
General Hurtado General Hurtado is head of the military when the Socialist government is overthrown. He sends a truck to pick up the weapons Esteban Trueba had stockpiled in his home; that's when Esteban is surprised half of them are gone because Alba and Miguel buried them in the mountains.
Indian servant The Indian servant is a strange, silent man whom Count Jean St. Satigny treats in special ways. He is ill-tempered toward Blanca and turns out to be part of the promiscuous photography sessions that the count engages in.
Jaime Jaime is one of the twin boys born to Clara and Esteban Trueba who grows up to be an introverted book lover with a heart dedicated to providing medical care to the poor and indigent. A nonviolent Marxist, he suffers a violent death at the hands of the coup leaders.
Zorebabel Blanco Jamasmié Zorebabel Blanco Jamasmié is the mayor of the town near Tres Marías who walks in on Férula as she sits on the toilet in the bathroom during a birthday party for Esteban Trueba. Embarrassed, he walks up to her to shake her hand as he introduces himself.
Jerónimo Jerónimo, a blind cousin in the del Valle family, accepts the challenge to climb a tall tree in the back yard. He makes it higher than any other young man, but he dies when he falls.
Uncle Juan Uncle Juan, Nívea's brother, has never been heard from since he farted while trying to impress a local beauty queen and walked away from the party, mortified.
King of the Pressure Cookers When Blanca was at her most beautiful, one of her serious suitors is known as the King of the Pressure Cookers. He is very wealthy and spends money on her, but Esteban Trueba detests him.
Lady The lady is a crisply uniformed woman who greets guests at the Christopher Columbus. She tries to block Esteban Trueba from seeing Tránsito Soto when he comes to ask for Tránsito's help in getting Alba out of prison, but he responds so violently that she backs down.
Lieutenant When Esteban Trueba visits the new government shortly after the coup and has his car taken away by the officer in charge, he gets a ride home with a lieutenant and some other soldiers. The lieutenant expresses dismay at the way things have turned out, and Esteban Trueba tries to reassure him that it was the only choice to keep the Communists out of power.
Longfellow Longfellow is the English captain of the ship Uncle Marcos was on when he died. Longfellow was going to throw his body overboard, but the other passengers prevented it.
Luis Luis is one of the del Valle children. He is characterized in the novel as having a limp due to a fall from a horse that Clara dreamed would happen.
Man in charge When the government raids the big house and the men take Alba away, the man in charge of the raid is particularly vicious in his words and actions.
Uncle Marcos Uncle Marcos is the wildly adventurous brother of Nívea who travels the world in between failed money-making schemes. His corpse is brought to the del Valle home along with all of his possessions after he dies aboard a ship on his way home from Africa to seek medical attention.
Father José Dulce María A Socialist-leaning priest in the Tres Marías area, Father José Dulce María is important in Pedro Tercero's young life. The priest teaches him to turn his poetry into song and helps him disguise himself as a priest so he can keep seeing Blanca after Esteban Trueba banishes Pedro Tercero from the estate.
Uncle Mateo Uncle Mateo is the brother of Nívea who was cursed by a Brazilian native, lost his hair, nails, and teeth, but had them all grow back once he began wearing an amulet from a voodoo priest.
Matron When the Christopher Columbus is still operating as a brothel and Esteban Trueba visits it, the matron in charge has a fake French accent. She brings Esteban "the best in the house": Tránsito Soto.
Miguel Miguel is the much younger brother of Amanda, who secretly watches the birth of Alba and becomes her lover when they meet in college. He is a leader in the Socialist movement.
Luisa Mora The three Mora sisters are among Clara's closest spiritual friends, and they all begin a regular Friday gathering of believers in the supernatural world. Just before the coup happens, the only Mora sister still alive, Luisa, comes to warn Esteban Trueba and Alba of the dire situation about to happen.
Mustafá Mustafá is the giant Negro whom Tránsito places in charge of the Christopher Columbus after she turns it into a cooperative venture.
Nana Nana is the lifelong servant in the del Valle household who comes to the big house on the corner to serve after Nívea and Severo are killed in the car crash. She dies of fright in the big house during the huge earthquake.
Nicolás Nicolás is one of the twin boys born to Clara and Esteban Trueba. Attractive and adventurous, he has trouble finding his way in life until he finally settles down as a spiritualist and makes a name for himself in North America.
Nívea Nívea is the wife of Severo del Valle and mother of many children, including Rosa and Clara. After she dies in a car crash with her husband, Clara finds her decapitated head.
The Nuncio The Nuncio, the Roman Catholic pope's ambassador in the country, assists Esteban Trueba in getting Pedro Tercero and Blanca safely out of the country after the coup.
Officer When Esteban Trueba enters the new government's headquarters after the coup, the officer in charge treats him rudely and confiscates his car.
Old woman When Clara visualizes Férula's death and insists that Father Antonio take her to her sister-in-law's apartment, an old woman in the same tenement confirms that she has not seen Férula for several days.
Pale soldier When Jaime is captured by the military and tortured, a pale soldier does what he can to help him, explaining that Jaime had saved his mother's life at his clinic. Later that same soldier goes to the big house to tell Esteban Trueba of Jaime's death, but Esteban refuses to believe it.
The Poet A famous writer, identified only as the Poet in the novel but widely believed to be Pablo Neruda, was a frequent visitor at the big house on the corner and often held Alba on his lap. Suspected of Socialist sympathies, the Poet was arrested after the coup and died shortly in captivity; his burial became the symbol for the end of freedom in the country.
The President After the Socialist party candidate ("the Candidate")—widely believed to be Salvador Allende—is elected president, Allende refers to him simply as the President. He institutes massive social reform policies but is killed in the military coup that ends his government.
Father Restrepo Father Restrepo is the rabidly religious priest who says in church that Clara is possessed by the devil.
Rojas Rojas is the male nurse who restores Alba to health after her horrible torture at the hands of Esteban García. He keeps track of all the patients he treats and advises Alba of Amanda's death.
Rosa Eerily beautiful with green hair, Rosa is the daughter of Severo and Nívea del Valle, older sister of Clara, and first love of Esteban Trueba. She is accidentally poisoned by a political rival of her father's just as Esteban finally has enough money to marry her.
Rostipov Rostipov is a Rumanian mystic to whom Severo and Nívea take Clara in the hope he will make her begin speaking again. He says there is no cure since the problem is that she doesn't want to speak, not that she can't.
Sánchez brothers The Sánchez brothers are violent siblings in the Tres Marías area who beat and kill Socialists who dare to come to the area.
Jean de Satigny Jean de Satigny is most likely not a count at all; he misrepresents himself as a wealthy man as he weaves his way into the Trueba family. When Blanca becomes pregnant with Pedro Tercero's child, Esteban Trueba forces her to marry the count and provides him with the living he has wanted; Blanca leaves him upon discovering the truth about his sexual debauchery.
Servant Doña Ester Trueba has a servant that stays with her for life, even after becoming stooped and half blind.
Short, dark woman When Alba is freed from prison and deposited in an empty lot, a boy appears and leads her to his mother, described as a "short, dark woman." Even though she is poor and putting herself and her son at risk, the woman cares for Alba, feeds her, and finds her a ride home to the big house.
Socialist leader One of the early Socialist leaders who travels through Tres Marías to spread the message, he is beaten to death by the Sánchez brothers. They display his body as a warning.
Sofía Sofía runs the brothel near Tres Marías that is called the Red Lantern.
Tránsito Soto Tránsito Soto starts out as a prostitute at the Red Lantern, where Esteban Trueba meets her. She later secures Alba's release from prison.
Swiss tutor The Swiss tutor hired by the del Valles to teach Clara stays for as short a time as the other tutors they try.
Doña Ester Trueba Doña Ester Trueba, mother of Esteban and Férula, is an invalid most of her life. Her daughter cares for her until the horrible death she experiences from her many diseases.
Trueba Doña Ester Trueba's husband—called only Trueba in the novel—is a handsome but irresponsible man who drinks too much and squanders her fortune. His son does appreciate the one thing he leaves that he can take advantage of, Tres Marías.
Don Salomón Valdes Don Salomón Valdes, Clara's godfather, hangs himself when he thinks he has lost all of his money. Young Clara has a vision of his death and insists that people go to check on him.
Severo del Valle Severo del Valle is the father of Clara and Rosa and more than 10 other children, a wealthy and powerful man with political ambitions. He and his wife, Nívea, die in an automobile accident just before Clara's twin boys are born.
Woodcutter When Esteban Trueba first arrives in San Lucas to reclaim the manor, he cannot find anyone in the town until a woodcutter arrives and agrees to take him there in his cart.
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