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The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits


by Isabel Allende

Clara del Valle Timeline and Summary

  • Clara writes in her notebook: "Barrabás came to us by sea."
  • In church with her family, Clara scandalizes the priest by using the f-word. He claims she's possessed by the devil.
  • Clara has special gifts, like prophecy and telekinesis, that her parents try to keep secret from the community, but that her Uncle Marcos exploits to try to make money.
  • Uncle Marcos dies, leaving behind a black puppy that Clara names Barrabás, and from whom she's never separated.
  • Clara's beautiful sister Rosa dies, and Clara accompanies Rosa's fiancé Esteban to the funeral.
  • Clara spies on Dr. Cuevas and his assistant as they perform an autopsy on Rosa. She watches as the assistant kisses her sister's corpse.
  • At the age of ten, Clara stops speaking for nine years.
  • Clara spends her childhood reading, interpreting dreams, listening to her mother's stories, and communicating by scrawling on a little chalkboard that she carries with her at all times.
  • On her nineteenth birthday, Clara finally speaks in order to announce that she'll be married.
  • When Esteban shows up to ask for Clara's hand in marriage, she consents.
  • At Esteban and Clara's engagement party, Barrabás dies with a butcher's knife sticking out of his back.
  • Clara makes friends with Esteban's sister, Férula, and invites her to live in the new house that Esteban is building.
  • Clara and Esteban marry and go to Italy on their honeymoon.
  • Clara gets pregnant and grows increasingly distracted. Férula takes care of her with doting attention.
  • Clara announces that her baby will be a girl named Blanca.
  • After Blanca's birth, Clara totes her daughter around with her everywhere and speaks to her like a little adult.
  • Clara accompanies Esteban to Tres Marías, where she realizes there's still a lot of work to be done. She abandons her spiritual activities for a time and engages herself in helping the peasants on Esteban's land. She tries to share her mother's feminist principles with the women, who can't relate to Clara's high-minded theories.
  • Clara gets pregnant again, and loses interest in practicalities. She returns to the capital.
  • Clara announces that she'll give birth to twin boys named Jaime and Nicolás. She refuses to name them after Esteban, because repetition creates confusion in her notebooks that bear witness to life.
  • Clara sees the death of her parents in a dream. She forces Férula to help her look for her mother's severed head, which she locates moments before going into labor.
  • Clara gives birth to twins with Férula's help.
  • Clara meets the three Mora sisters, her "astral sisters" (4.72).
  • When Esteban kicks Férula out of the house, Clara tries to look for her using supernatural techniques, but is unsuccessful.
  • Clara cares for the poor during the exanthemic typhus epidemic.
  • Clara begins to hold weekly séances in the house.
  • Clara explains to Blanca that the poor don't need charity – they need justice.
  • Férula's ghost appears to the family, and Clara insists upon being shown to Férula's apartment, where they discover her corpse. Clara washes and dresses the body, saying good-bye to her friend.
  • Clara predicts the earthquake that will destroy the house at Tres Marías. She helps dig Esteban out of the rubble.
  • Clara cares for Esteban while he's recovering, and helps restore the property. Esteban's foul temper distances her from her husband, and she begins to grow closer to the foreman, Pedro Segundo García.
  • Clara mourns the death of Nana.
  • Clara has a bolt installed on her bedroom door and explains to Esteban that they won't be sleeping together anymore.
  • Clara defends Blanca and Pedro Tercero's romantic tryst to her husband, who punches her in the face. She stops wearing her wedding ring and never speaks to Esteban again.
  • Clara and Blanca return to the big house on the corner, where they live with Jaime and Nicolás. Clara is happy to be living with her sons again.
  • Clara maintains a daily correspondence with Blanca when her daughter goes to live in the North with the Count. She knows that her separation from Blanca will not be long, and prepares a room for her with a cradle in it.
  • When Blanca returns home, Clara helps her give birth and pick out a name for her daughter.
  • Clara is the life force of the big house on the corner. Her granddaughter grows very close to her.
  • Clara makes preparations to die, and Alba helps her to pass on to the next dimension.
  • Clara's spirit continues to haunt the big house on the corner, first comforting Alba, and eventually Esteban as well.
  • Clara's ghost appears to Alba while she's in prison, encouraging her to write as a means of staying alive.
  • Clara's spirit comforts Esteban as he dies.