The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende
The House of the Spirits Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The ladies moved into the living room. […] There they could weep at leisure, unburdening themselves of their own troubles as they wept for someone else's death. […] The maids moved back and forth through the sitting rooms and halls, distributing […] cold compresses soaked in ammonia for those ladies who felt faint from the lack of air, the scent of candles, and the weight of their emotion. (1.59)
More than an actual grieving, which might take place in private, the act of weeping at Rosa's funeral is a performance taken up by the women in attendance. (Check out the performance of grief at Old Pedro García's funeral in Chapter 6 – in that case a different group of people is assembled to weep for the dead [6.29].) The men, by way of contrast, stand, stroll through the halls, and talk business in low voices.
It was the custom then for women and children not to attend funerals, which were considered a male province, but at the last minute Clara managed to slip into the cortège to accompany her sister Rosa… (1.66)
Clara doesn't ever pay too much attention to social norms and customs – she follows her own rules.
"I would like to have been born a man, so I could leave too," she said, full of hatred.
"And I would not have liked to be a woman," he said. (2.19)
Férula provides a foil for Esteban – they're similar in temperament and grew up with the same tough family life, but Férula takes on the role of her mother's nurse and feels trapped at home, while Esteban is free to go off and seek his fortune. Both she and Esteban chalk that up to the fact that, in their society, women are expected to stick around the house and take care of the sick and elderly, and men are expected to go out into the world and earn a living.