The House of the Spirits
The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
It was then that she began her first serious attempts to communicate with extraterrestrial beings and that, as she herself noted, she began to have her first doubts regarding the spiritual messages she received from the pendulum and the three-legged table. She often said that perhaps it was not the souls of the dead, wandering in another dimension, but rather beings from other planets who were trying to establish a relationship with earthlings but who, because they were made of an intangible matter, could easily be confused with souls. (7.4)
Clara expresses doubt as to the source of the spiritual messages she receives, but their authenticity is accepted as a matter of fact. This is just another example of the way supernatural or magical elements are taken to be realistic in the novel.
[Nicolás] tried in vain to imitate her… Clara tried to console him for his failures.
"You can't learn these things or inherit them," she would tell him when she saw him going cross-eyed with concentration in his strenuous efforts to move the saltshaker without touching it. (7.49)
Nicolás's inability to learn or inherit his mother's psychic gifts raises questions about gender and spirituality in the novel – women tend to be more spiritually perceptive than men. Is supernatural ability a female trait, as Esteban Trueba asserts?
Her mother replied that there was no reason to fear the dead, only the living, because, despite their bad reputation, there was no evidence that mummies had ever attacked anyone; if anything, they were naturally timid. (8.27)
The tone here is both humorous and ominous – the idea of timid little mummies skittering around is cute, but Clara's point about fearing the living is foreboding in light of the violent events that take place towards the end of the novel.