The House of the Spirits
Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
She was already in the habit of writing down important matters, and afterward, when she was mute, she also recorded trivialities, never suspecting that fifty years later I would use her notebooks to reclaim the past and overcome terrors of my own. (1.1)
Right off the bat, Clara is established as a writer – and so is the narrator, who uses Clara's notebooks in the construction of her own story. These two writers lend a certain symmetry to the novel as a whole. Notice where reference to Clara's and the narrator's writing appears again – check out the very last paragraph of the book.
She put her papers in order, and salvaged her notebooks that bore witness to life from the hidden corners of the house. She tied them up with colored ribbons, arranging them according to events and not in chronological order, for the one thing she had forgotten to record was the dates, and in her final haste she decided that she could not waste time looking them up. (9.92)
Clara's notebooks provide a record of life organized according to events, not chronology. This bears a certain similarity to how the story of the del Valle and Trueba families is told – the narrator jumps around in time a lot in order to present events to us according to a certain theme or character, not the order in which they occurred.
Clara also brought the saving idea of writing in her mind, without paper or pencil, to keep her thoughts occupied and to escape from the doghouse and live. (14.59)
During Alba's imprisonment, writing becomes not just a way of remembering the past, but a technique for survival.