The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende
Old Pedro García, Pedro Segundo García, and Pedro Tercero García
The repetition of the name Pedro amongst three generations of García men says a lot about the hold that patriarchal tradition has over the people of the countryside, and their slowness to accept change. But it doesn't mean that these three characters have similar personalities, or that their function in the novel is the same. In fact, we can look at the three Pedro Garcías as embodying the steady but slow march of generational progress. Old Pedro García is steeped in the tradition and lore of generations gone by – his knowledge is timeless and powerful, and even though he's blind, he possesses an insight that other characters lack. Pedro Segundo, a formal and traditional man who, through his dogged labors only succeeds in lining the pockets of the patrón, is secretly proud of his son's revolutionary activities. And Pedro Tercero is the young rebel who's willing to speak truth to power, even if it means risking his life.
Much of the novel's plot hinges upon Pedro Tercero's forbidden romance with the patrón's daughter, so he winds up on a lot more pages than his father or grandfather. And the loss of three of the fingers on his right hand provides a visual connection between him and his daughter Alba, who suffers the same mutilation in prison. Both characters overcome their handicap in order to pursue their creative and political endeavors.