The House of the Spirits
How we cite our quotes:
I vowed to extract the last gram of precious metal even if it meant I had to crush the hills with my own hands and grind the rocks with my feet. For Rosa's sake, I was prepared to do that and much more. (1.34)
Esteban Trueba's extraordinary ambition is clear from the moment he first appears in the novel. Two of the driving forces in his life are also apparent here – his desire to overcome his humble origins and become rich, and his passion for women.
He decided that from that day on, no matter how tight his circumstances, he would always pay for the small comforts that made him feel rich.
"I don't plan to be poor ever again!" he decided, dreaming of the seam of gold. (2.27)
Just as important as having money to Esteban is the appearance of having money – he doesn't just want to be rich, he wants everyone to know it. This makes sense based on the anxiety he experiences as a child, when he thinks the other kids can hear the crinkle of the newspaper that he uses as padding inside his worn-out coat. Appearing poor in front of others causes Esteban great humiliation.
He knew that an immense task lay ahead of him. […] For a second he was tempted to pile his two bags back on the cart and return whence he had come, but he rejected that plan in a flash and resolved that if there was anything that could alleviate the grief and rage of Rosa's loss it would be breaking his back working in this ruined land. (2.43)
When Esteban puts his mind to something, he gets it done. The strength of Esteban's resolve is one of his defining characteristics.