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The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits

by Isabel Allende

Perseverance Theme

The House of Spirits is full of astounding illustrations of perseverance in the face of adversity, from Esteban Trueba's fierce determination to rise above the poverty of his childhood to Alba's survival of torture in the secret military prisons of the dictatorship. Several characters in this novel overcome physical mutilation, political oppression, and the limitations of societal expectations in order to achieve their goals and to somehow attain measure of happiness.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. What differences mark Esteban Trueba and his sister Férula and the way they deal with their family's disgrace and the poverty of their childhood? Is Esteban more successful because he is more ambitious? Does this make him happy?
  2. How do societal expectations of women's behavior affect female characters' ability to overcome hardships? Do the women of the novel conform to these expectations or challenge them?
  3. What makes Pedro Tercero different from the other peasant farmers at Tres Marías? What motivates him to persevere in challenging the limitations of class structure?
  4. In order to survive the tortures of prison and to then emerge psychically sound, the women in the concentration camp have to remember some things and forget others. How do the characters manipulate memory in order to persevere?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Alba's participation in the Socialist movement as well as her survival of the tortures of imprisonment are primarily due to the influence and assistance of other, stronger characters in the novel. Alba perseveres thanks to her relationships with more dedicated people.

Though Tránsito Soto has more obstacles to overcome than Esteban Trueba in order to achieve wealth and status, she ultimately becomes more successful and more powerful than he does.

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