As dark and unpleasant as this may sound, we have to admit that violence occupies a central role in The House of Spirits – especially violence against women. Some have accused Allende of being too graphic in the passages about distasteful topics like rape and torture, but we don't think her descriptions are gratuitous. Far from glorifying violent acts, the text operates as a fictitious testimony – based on historical events – that gives a voice to victims of violence and seeks to prevent these things from happening again.
The atmosphere of violent state repression that descends upon the characters in the final two chapters "doesn't allow for the magical side of things" (10.44). The failure of the beneficent spirits to come to Alba's aid when she gets dragged off to prison suggests that magic and violence are incompatible.
Throughout the novel, women suffer violence as punishment for the sins of their fathers, indicating the extreme vulnerability of women in a patriarchal system.