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At the age of 25, Esteban seeks his fortune in the mines of the North so that he can marry Rosa del Valle. He finds the lode that will make him rich on the same day that he receives news of Rosa's accidental death.
Esteban goes to Rosa's funeral, and then spends the night by her graveside. He doesn't see the point in living any longer.
Esteban tells his sister Férula that he's not returning to the mine, and that he wants to work on the family farm instead. He leaves his sister to care for their dying mother and heads to Tres Marías.
Esteban works tirelessly to clean up the estate, and soon it's up and running again.
Esteban rapes Pancha García. When he realizes she's pregnant, he kicks her out of his house, abandoning her and her offspring, and therefore setting them up for a life of poverty. Then he rapes a lot of other peasant women.
Esteban begins to participate in the political organization of local landowners, who campaign to keep the Conservative Party in power.
Esteban visits the Red Lantern, a local brothel, and lends fifty pesos to the prostitute Tránsito Soto so she can travel to the capital to seek her fortune.
Esteban gets a letter from Férula saying that their mother is dying. He travels home to say good-bye to her.
Esteban's mom tells him to get married and give her grandchildren. He goes to the del Valle home to see if they have any other daughters he can wed.
Esteban meets Clara, and they agree to get married.
Esteban builds a big, colonial-style mansion in the capital in preparation for his marriage.
Esteban and Clara get married and go on a honeymoon to Italy.
Esteban surprises Clara with the gift of her beloved dog Barrabás turned into a rug for her bedroom. She doesn't like it.
Clara gets pregnant. Esteban wants a boy, but it's a girl. Esteban is not impressed with his new, slimy, wrinkly daughter.
Esteban takes his family to Tres Marías. When he finds out that Clara's been haranguing the peasant women with feminist speeches, he has a temper tantrum.
Esteban gets Clara pregnant again, this time with twins. Esteban gets angry at Clara's refusal to name either of the boys after him, and goes to a brothel in town – the Christopher Columbus – where he encounters Tránsito Soto again.
Esteban despairs because Clara treats him just like she treats everyone else. He tries to make her jealous by going to brothels and raping more peasant women, but it doesn't work – Clara is as impassive as ever. Esteban's love for Clara is "the most powerful emotion of his life" (4.76).
Esteban grows jealous of Férula's ministrations to Clara, and kicks his sister out of the house, accusing her of seducing Clara with her "lesbian arts" (4.79).
Esteban sends his sons to an English boarding school to separate them from his wife's mystical influence.
Esteban whips Pedro Tercero García for passing out subversive literature on his land.
Esteban gets crushed when the house at Tres Marías collapses on top of him during a big earthquake. He insists that Old Pedro García be allowed to reset all of his broken bones.
Months in a wheelchair put Esteban in a really bad mood – he drives everyone away with his ill temper.
Clara puts a bolt on her bedroom door and refuses to let Esteban sleep with her, despite his best attempts to seduce her.
Esteban starts to notice he's shrinking, and blames it on Férula's curse.
Esteban meets the Count Jean de Satigny and entertains the idea of starting a chinchilla farm. Esteban consents to give him Blanca's hand in marriage, though Blanca refuses.
Esteban finds out about Blanca and Pedro Tercero, thanks to the conniving Count. He beats Blanca with a horse whip.
When Clara defends the young lovers, Esteban Trueba punches her in the face, knocking out her teeth. He begs forgiveness, but Clara never speaks to him again after that.
Esteban Trueba hunts down Pedro Tercero, going on a tip provided by Esteban García, his illegitimate grandson.
Esteban tries to kill Pedro Tercero, but only manages to chop off three of his fingers before the young man escapes.
Esteban Trueba refuses to pay García the reward he promised him.
Upon finding out that Blanca is pregnant, Esteban forces the Count to marry his daughter, and sends them off to live in the North to avoid a scandal.
Esteban runs for political office, and wins, becoming a Senator of the Republic.
Esteban Trueba adores his little granddaughter, Alba. He takes her on trips to Tres Marías and spends the happiest periods of his life in her company.
Esteban Trueba gives Esteban García a letter of recommendation and a scholarship to go to the police academy. He still hasn't figured out that García is his grandson.
Clara dies, and Esteban locks himself in her room. He spends the night by her side and says good-bye. Once again, Esteban feels like dying. He dresses in mourning clothes for the rest of his life.
Esteban and his son Nicolás clash over Nicolás's religious activities. The Senator has a heart attack the day that Nicolás lies down naked in front of Congress. When he recovers, he ships his son overseas with strict instructions to never return.
Esteban designs an enormous mausoleum so that he can be buried with the bodies of the two most important women in his life – Rosa and Clara. When Rosa's family refuses to let Esteban have her body, he goes to the cemetery with Jaime and steals it instead.
Esteban is ever more vigilant against the encroachments of the leftist parties on the political system. People start to think he's crazy.
Esteban returns to the Christopher Columbus where, again, he meets Tránsito Soto.
The Socialists win the election, and Esteban begins to conspire with foreign intelligence agencies, military officials, and members of his own party to destabilize the new government.
Tres Marías is seized as a part of the government's continuation of agrarian reform. In a rage, Esteban sets off for the property and tries to take it by storm. The peasants end up taking him hostage on national television.
Esteban is rescued by Pedro Tercero, Blanca, and Alba.
Luisa Mora warns Esteban that he'll be on the side of the victors in the upcoming violence, but that victory will only bring him suffering.
Esteban Trueba celebrates the military coup.
After a few days, when no one has yet asked Esteban to be a part of the new government, he drives to the Ministry of Defense to talk things over with an officer. He's treated disrespectfully, and Esteban has his first doubts as to the wisdom of his actions.
Esteban learns of Jaime's death, but refuses to believe it until he sees Jaime's ghost a couple of weeks later.
Esteban takes revenge on the peasants who expropriated his land. He burns their huts and kicks them off the property, but then feels guilty about it.
Esteban finally admits to Blanca and Alba that he's made a mistake, and that the military coup was a bad idea.
Esteban helps Blanca and Pedro Tercero flee the country.
The secret police break into Esteban's house and take his granddaughter into custody. Esteban promises Alba that he'll have her released right away.
Esteban goes to Tránsito Soto and begs her to help him. She calls him two days later with the report that she's done what he asked.
When Alba returns home, Esteban suggests that she write her family history in case she ever has to leave. He helps her write the novel, writing many passages himself.
Esteban dies in the company of Clara's spirit and Alba.