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The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits

by Isabel Allende

Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of The House of the Spirits leaves us feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. After bawling over Chapter 14 for seventeen pages, it's such a relief to know that Alba makes it home to her grandfather.

But more than just a happy resolution to the plot, the Epilogue helps us understand how the whole novel comes together structurally. We learn that Alba has been the narrator all along, and that Esteban Trueba has been helping her write her family story, which is why some of the passages are told from his perspective. We even kind of get why the novel isn't always delivered in a neat and easy chronological order – because Alba is using her grandmother Clara's notebooks as inspiration, and those notebooks were never in chronological order. In fact, Alba's raw materials are a whole hodgepodge of family documents, photos, and records. Alba may be the person to put the words down on paper, but she didn't write this story alone – it's a family affair.

The theme of family is all over the place in the Epilogue, and thinking about Alba's relationships with her family members sheds some light on what we think this novel is trying to do. Through the act of writing, Alba connects with previous generations and paves the way for future ones. The whole point of writing this story and of reflecting on the past is so she can "overcome terrors" in the present and learn to live without prolonging hatred and violence that will only come back to haunt her descendents. And there's one on the way – at the close of the novel, Alba tells us she's expecting a baby girl. Aw. See? There's that warm fuzzy feeling again.

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