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Themes

The House of the Spirits presents a literary version of a political fiasco, namely the events leading to the 1973 coup d'état in Chile that removed Socialist President Salvador Allende from power. Politics begin to crop up in the second chapter of the novel, and become more and more central to the plot as the novel progresses. The characters debate and wage campaigns over questions of society and class, women's rights, and the idea of justice. While the author's political stance on this chapter of Chilean history is pretty clear, it's interesting that she manages to present the opposing point of view – still a prominent one in Chile today – in a somewhat sympathetic light as well.

Questions About Politics

  1. In The House of the Spirits, what are the two opposing political positions on the subject of "justice"?
  2. What are the weaknesses of the leftist political coalition? Why does the system inevitably fail?
  3. What character or characters seem to possess the clearest and most accurate understanding of national politics in the novel?
  4. Does the question of politics end when the military regime comes to power? What happens to politicians under the military regime? And what is the place of politics in the new military government?

Chew on This

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

Alba's political involvement and acts of resistance against the military dictatorship are primarily motivated by other characters, like her boyfriend Miguel, the spirit of her grandmother, and her friend Ana Díaz. Alba doesn't have any real political conviction of her own – she's essentially a passive character.

Though the author takes a definite political stance in the novel, she still manages to present the opposing point of view in a sympathetic light by explaining its rationale.

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