The House of the Spirits | Study Guide

Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits | Epilogue | Summary

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Summary

With the opening line of the Epilogue—"My grandfather died last night"—the identity of the omniscient narrator is finally revealed: It is the voice of Alba. The setting is Clara's old bedroom at the big house on the corner. Esteban Trueba's dead body is in Clara's bed, and Alba is writing on Clara's blond wood table.

Alba recalls how she got back to the big house. She arrived in a wagon and was lovingly greeted by her grandfather. Although he wanted to leave the country, she would not go because of Miguel. Her grandfather explained that he and Miguel worked together to figure out how to find her.

Then Alba told her grandfather how her escape was made. She had been sent from the jail to a clinic because of a badly infected hand. A male nurse named Rojas, sympathetic to the cause, nursed her back to health and assured her that Miguel had not been captured although Amanda had been and she was dead.

From the clinic Alba was sent to a concentration camp for women. Ana Díaz was also there, and the women enjoyed a great deal of camaraderie. After just a few days, however, Alba was blindfolded and taken away in a van. She was left in a dump in the city. An old woman and her son took her in, fed her, and found her the wagon ride home.

Alba and her grandfather decide to fix up big house on the corner, restoring it to its former glory. Clara's spirit returns, sailing frequently through the house. She is there when Esteban Trueba dies.

Alba explains that it was her grandfather's idea for her to write this story. Using his memories, Clara's notebooks, albums of photographs, letters and other documents, she has pieced it all together. As she looks at the big picture of her family's saga, she realizes that revenge against Esteban García is not among the things she wants. What she wants is to break the chain of violence, to "wait for better times to come, while I carry this child in my womb. ... my own daughter." What she wants is to overcome her terrors.

The novel ends with the line that began it, with the first sentence in Clara's first notebook: "Barrabás came to us by sea."

Analysis

Ending the novel as it began is a stroke of genius by Allende. It is such a huge story, spanning so many years and generations, yet it feels complete. Despite all the horrible things that have happened, readers feel the peace that Alba has. She is a survivor. As the last in the del Valle/Trueba family line, she is having a daughter, not a son. It is a fresh start, and hopefully the country will soon be given a fresh start as well. When that happens, Alba can be reunited with Miguel and they can begin to write their own story with their daughter.

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