The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits Chapter 7 Summary
- This chapter opens in third-person narrative.
- Clara and Blanca arrive at the big house on the corner. Clara decides that they need to stop feeling sorry for themselves, and the women get to work opening up the house. The three Mora sisters come to visit and comfort the mother and daughter in their misfortune.
- Clara buys a denture to replace her missing teeth, but she only wears it when she eats and when she attends social gatherings. Otherwise it hangs on a cord around her neck.
- Within a few days, Clara's spiritualist friends start to show up. The house is full of people, including Jaime and Nicolás.
- Jaime has begun university, while Nicolás is searching for his destiny.
- The brothers share a car, which they name Covadonga after the car that killed their grandparents.
- Blanca is gaining weight, and Jaime tells his mother he thinks Blanca is pregnant. Blanca confirms their suspicions.
- The family gets Esteban Trueba to call them so they can tell him about Blanca's pregnancy. Esteban gets mad and smashes the phone again.
- Esteban Trueba tracks down Count Jean de Satigny, drags him to the train station, and forces him to accompany him to the capital so the Count can marry Blanca.
- Esteban Trueba plans a huge, elaborate wedding to cover up the scandal of Blanca's pregnancy.
- At first Blanca refuses to go along with her father's plans, but he tells her that Pedro Tercero is dead, so she might as well get married. Blanca gives in.
- Blanca and Jean de Satigny are married. Instead of going to the party, Clara uses her clairvoyant powers to read the future of the newlyweds. Her dire predictions will all come true.
- Esteban persuades Clara to make a brief appearance at the party, which she does out of love for her daughter.
- Jaime arrives late to the wedding celebration because he's been working at the clinic for the poor where he is training as a medical student.
- Nicolás shows up to the party with the beautiful Amanda. He gets drunk and jumps in a fountain.
- Blanca cries through the entire party.
- Meanwhile, downtown, the Socialists are preparing for the upcoming elections. Jaime thinks they're going to win this time, but Clara knows with psychic certainty that they won't.
- Esteban gives Jean de Satigny a check as a wedding present. He's made arrangements for the newlyweds to move to the North where Blanca can give birth to her baby without a scandal.
- Clara tells Blanca that Pedro Tercero García is alive – she dreamt it – and Blanca finally stops crying. She doesn't weep again until the day Clara dies, seven years later.
- Clara gets depressed with Blanca gone. She tries to communicate with her daughter telepathically but it doesn't work, so mother and daughter write each other letters almost daily.
- Jaime and Nicolás grow apart.
- Nicolás starts a business teaching flamenco on the dining room table of his family's house, until his father finds out and puts a stop to it.
- Nicolás desperately wants to imitate his mother's psychic talents. When he fails, Clara consoles him by telling him, "You can't learn these things or inherit them" (6.50).
- Esteban doesn't care for Nicolás's friend Amanda, who works as a newspaper reporter and smokes a lot of hashish with Nicolás.
- Jaime is in the habit of giving all his money and most of his clothes to the poor people he helps care for at the hospital. He also brings home stray dogs, abandoned children, unwed mothers, and other people in need of help so that his mother can take care of them. Soon Clara and Jaime are helping an entire network of people.
- When Jaime's not working at the hospital, he's in his room reading. During an earthquake, Jaime's bookshelves collapse on top of him, and he gets buried under an avalanche of books.
- Jaime has a big crush on Nicolás's girlfriend, Amanda, but he's way too shy to do anything about it.
- Amanda's five-year-old brother Miguel accompanies her constantly. Because he calls Clara Mama and Jaime Papa, everyone assumes he and Amanda are orphans. Clara convinces Amanda to put Miguel in school, though it's traumatic for him and Amanda to be separated for even a few hours. When Miguel gets out of school, Amanda is so relieved she exclaims, "I'd give my life for you, Miguel" (6.57). (Foreshadowing alert!)
- Esteban Trueba decides to go into politics. He campaigns to be a Senator for the Conservative Party.
- Clara has to add new rooms to the house to accommodate all the guests, which now include members of her husband's campaign team. The house "soon [comes] to resemble a labyrinth" (6.59).
- Esteban gets nervous as the election draws near, and one night he asks Clara if he can sit with her in her room. They sit together and share a plate of crackers, but Clara never speaks. Esteban asks Clara if she thinks he is going to win, and she nods her head. Esteban is immediately relieved.
- Clara and Esteban get along better after that, though Clara still doesn't speak to her husband.
- Ten days later, Esteban is elected Senator. Political power is great and all, but he's still lonely. He doesn't get along with his sons, never hears from Blanca, and can't talk with his wife.
- Jaime never tells his father that he meets with Pedro Tercero frequently to talk politics.
- Here we get a brief flashback to what's been going on with Pedro Tercero. After Esteban chops off his fingers, he goes to stay with Father Dulce María, who treats his hand. Pedro Tercero is depressed because he lost his girlfriend and can't even play the guitar anymore, but Father Dulce María takes him to see an old blind woman who makes baskets with her feet and tells him to stop sulking and to learn to play the guitar without all of his fingers. He also tells Pedro Tercero that he'll see Blanca again, when he least expects it. Pedro Tercero feels better.
- Pedro Tercero moves to the capital and lives in a wooden shack. He plays folk songs in a café, preaches Socialism, and starts to write new music. Soon he gets invited to play on the radio, and he starts to become famous.
- Jaime tells his dad that he wants to change his last name. Ever since Esteban Trueba became a Senator for the Conservative Party his friends at school have been giving him a hard time, and his patients at the hospital don't trust him. Esteban is really angry because the whole reason he wanted to have kids was to have someone carry on his name. Two weeks later the rumor circulates around Congress that Jaime took off his pants in the street to give them to a beggar and walked home in his underwear. Esteban tells Jaime he can go ahead and change his last name.
- Nicolás wants to try to fly over the cordillera (mountain range) just like his Uncle Marcos did. He plans to get a soda company to sponsor his adventure by placing their advertisement on the side of a huge balloon. When the soda company backs out, Nicolás decides to take his balloon over the mountains anyway. Clara has a hunch the balloon won't take off, and she's right – at the last minute Esteban Trueba intervenes to put a stop to his son's crazy plan.
- In order to not waste the materials he bought to construct the balloon, Nicolás decides to make chicken sandwiches, wrap them in pieces of the balloon's skin, and sell them to office workers. His chicken-sandwich production drives everyone in the house crazy, however, and he has to abandon that scheme, too.
- Amanda has stopped coming by the house, and Nicolás goes to look for her. She's pregnant with his child and, to Nicolás's relief, says she wants an abortion.
- Nicolás begs Jaime to help Amanda by giving her an illegal abortion. Jaime doesn't want to do it, because he's in love with Amanda. He's also nervous because he's still a med student, and he doesn't want Amanda to die during the operation because he doesn't know what he's doing. Eventually Jaime gives in.
- Jaime agrees to do the abortion in the poor, shabby clinic where he's training as a doctor.
- Nicolás can't stomach the operation and starts throwing up. Jaime does all the hard work and then takes care of Amanda while she's waking up from the anesthesia. Amanda asks Jaime to hold her and they cuddle all night.
- Nicolás and Jaime take Amanda to Clara's house, where the group looks after her for a few days. Miguel, of course, comes to stay too.
- Esteban Trueba goes on a trip to the United States to see if the North American doctors can identify the cause of his mysterious shrinking. The doctors tell him he must be imagining it.
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