Study Guide

The House of the Spirits Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

The Lovers

  • Our little Blanca is growing up.
  • The young girl looks forward to seeing Pedro Tercero García every time her family goes to Tres Marías for the summer. This time, when Blanca arrives at the estate, Pedro Tercero doesn't run up to greet her – he turns and runs away. Blanca is hurt.
  • Blanca wakes up at dawn and realizes that it's because of the changes her fourteen-year-old body has undergone that her friend has run away. She dresses in her old clothes from the previous summer and sneaks out to the river to find Pedro Tercero. He looks just the same.
  • Soon Pedro gets over the weirdness of Blanca having curves and they're back to hanging out just like always.
  • Pedro Tercero takes Blanca to see a bay mare giving birth on the hillside. Blanca is moved, and tells Pedro Tercero that when she grows up, she wants to marry him. Pedro Tercero shakes his head, understanding that he and Blanca come from different social classes and won't be permitted to marry.
  • Pedro Tercero and Blanca still play like children, but they understand that they can't act freely in front of others anymore.
  • The two youngsters swear eternal love to each other. Aw. Then they develop a secret code so they can write to each other while Blanca is away.
  • Back in the big house on the corner, the whole Trueba family is having dinner together, including Jaime and Nicolás, who are home from school. Suddenly Férula appears in the dining room. She approaches Clara and kisses her, then leaves. Clara announces that Férula is dead. Everyone starts freaking out. They realize they've just seen a ghost.
  • Esteban and Clara get Father Antonio to take them to where Férula has been living. They find Férula dead in her bed, in a dilapidated tenement building. She's "festooned like an Austrian queen," wearing gaudy used clothing that she'd picked up at a secondhand shop: a velvet dress, yellow petticoats, and a curly opera wig (5.35).
  • Clara washes Férula's body and dresses her up "in the most eccentric and elegant rags she could find," then replaces the opera wig (5.38). As she works, she confesses to Férula how much she misses her.
  • Esteban and Clara find a cookie tin filled with the unopened envelopes of money that Esteban sent Férula over the years. Esteban angrily wonders why his sister insisted on living in poverty when she had plenty of money.
  • OK, back to the young lovers. Blanca and Pedro Tercero write each other steamy love letters in code and pine for each other. The next summer they're joyfully reunited.
  • Pedro Tercero writes songs now and plays them on his guitar. Esteban Trueba overhears him one day and asks him to sing. The boy sings about a bunch of hens who organize to defeat a fox. Esteban definitely gets the analogy but, just to be sure, Pedro Tercero asks him: "If the hens can overcome the fox, what about human beings?" Then he leaves before Esteban can start yelling.
  • Esteban tries to give Pedro Tercero extra work to interrupt his schooling, but the boy simply gets up earlier and stays up later.
  • This is the year that Esteban Trueba whips Pedro García for passing out subversive pamphlets about labor rights to the tenants.
  • Blanca doesn't run to greet Pedro Tercero when she arrives at Tres Marías this year, and Nana thinks it's because their love affair has come to an end.
  • Blanca locks her door that night and sneaks out her window to meet Pedro Tercero by the river.
  • They make love for the first time. It's true love. They keep at it every night.
  • Jaime and Nicolás run around like little monsters and have a great time on the hacienda.
  • Three years go by like this.
  • The third year, as summer vacation comes to a close, the animals start acting really strangely. Clara foretells an earthquake, and says that this time it will be different and ten thousand people will die. Of course, no one listens to her.
  • Clara has a nightmare at four in the morning. She runs to Blanca's room but finds it locked. She runs outside, sees the open window, and figures out what's going on just as the earthquake starts.
  • The earthquake is huge. Much destruction ensues.
  • Esteban Trueba makes it to the doorway of the house right when it collapses on top of him. Clara knows he's still alive, and gets the men to help her dig him out.
  • Blanca and Pedro Tercero show up at daylight, and Blanca's mom is not so happy.
  • They dig Esteban out of the rubble. He's alive, but every bone in his body is broken. Pedro Segundo García wants to take him to a doctor, but old Pedro García says that if they move Esteban he will die. Esteban trusts the old blind man and lets him set his bones. When they heal they are so perfectly set that Esteban's doctors are shocked.
  • The earthquake is accompanied by a tidal wave and an erupting volcano. Clara is right – thousands die.
  • Esteban Trueba has to spend four months in a full body cast, a situation that is not good for his temper. Clara watches after him, and Blanca gets sent back to boarding school.
  • In the capital, Nana dies of fright from the earthquake. Everyone is so busy helping with the recovery that no one in the family attends her funeral.
  • Pedro Segundo García takes charge at Tres Marías while the patrón recovers. Pedro Tercero has to help, but he does so reluctantly, arguing that his father is "breaking his back to restore the patrón's wealth while the rest of them would remain as poor as they had been before" (5.82).
  • Pedro Tercero takes advantage of Esteban's convalescence to pass out forbidden unionist literature.
  • Esteban orders the men to begin reconstruction on the main house.
  • Clara has to wait on her husband hand and foot. His injuries put him in a terrible mood, and he acts like a big jerk. Clara comes to fear him, and later despise him.
  • Clara works closely with Pedro Segundo García to restore the property, and the two become friends.
  • Tres Marías gets a telephone, by which Clara learns that Blanca is sick and that the nuns at her school don't want to be responsible for taking care of her. Clara goes to fetch Blanca. Esteban destroys the phone in a fit of rage because it won't stop ringing.
  • Clara collects Blanca from school, and recognizes that Blanca's illness is not in her body but in her soul. The two women go to visit Jaime and Nicolás at their British boarding school, and Clara thinks it's strange that her sons speak Spanish with an Oxford accent.
  • Clara and Blanca return to the big house on the corner, which has been neglected since Nana's death. Clara dismisses the remaining staff and the two women shut up the house, releasing all the birds that Clara had kept.
  • Clara weeps for Nana's death, and has Nana's body transferred to the del Valle family tomb.
  • Clara and Blanca return to Tres Marías, where they find Esteban sitting in a makeshift wheelchair.
  • Esteban has fired Pedro Tercero García for handing out subversive literature on his property. He threatens to shoot Pedro Tercero if he ever finds him prowling around Tres Marías again.
  • Clara tells her husband that he can't keep the world from changing. Esteban responds by smashing the soup tureen she's holding.
  • Blanca waits for Pedro Tercero by the river every night. He finally appears, disguised as a tramp.
  • Pedro Tercero tells Blanca about what's going on in the rest of the world, from World War II to the success of workers' movements in the United States and in Europe.
  • Blanca tells Pedro Tercero to be careful, and reminds him of the story of the Socialist leader who was murdered by nearby landowners a few years earlier.
  • Blanca avoids being sent back to school by making herself ill until she's acquired a reputation for sickliness.
  • To keep Blanca busy, old Pedro García introduces her to ceramics. Blanca begins to make crèches out of clay and invents fantastical animals, much as her Aunt Rosa had done in embroidery.
  • Pedro Tercero García acquires the status of a hero after Esteban Trueba kicks him off the property. He sneaks back to Tres Marías periodically to visit Blanca, always in disguise.
  • Pedro Segundo García is secretly proud of his son for being a fugitive instead of meekly accepting his status as just another peasant.

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