Study Guide

The House of the Spirits Chapter 6

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Chapter 6


  • This chapter starts off in Esteban Trueba's voice.
  • A year and a half after the earthquake, things are back to normal at Tres Marías.
  • Through sheer determination, Esteban has regained his ability to walk, but his infirmity has left him with a horrible temper. He realizes that Clara is now afraid of him.
  • Esteban also recognizes that he doesn't have a good relationship with his daughter, Blanca. Esteban the Narrator blames this on her love for Pedro Tercero.
  • Esteban tries to please Clara by refurnishing the house, but she remains "impervious to these things" (6.2).
  • Esteban and Clara fight over issues with the tenants. Esteban starts paying the tenants in real money instead in vouchers, to please Clara, but points out that it didn't make things better. Instead, he says the men used their paychecks to get drunk in town, and left the women and children to go hungry.
  • Esteban and Clara also disagree on the topic of the second World War. Esteban tracks the progress of the Nazi troops while Clara knits socks for Allied soldiers.
  • Clara puts a bolt on her door and refuses to let Esteban into her bed. This, of course, drives him crazy.
  • Esteban tries to woo his wife with all sorts of amorous attentions, but she continues to evade him.
  • To try to make Clara jealous, Esteban says he's going to the Red Lantern. Clara only responds that it's a lot better than raping peasant girls, which surprises Esteban because he doesn't think she knows anything about his dalliances with the tenants' daughters.
  • Esteban tries rape again, but finds he's too old to overpower the young women.
  • The narrative switches to third person here.
  • Esteban begins to think he's shrinking, but no one else notices.
  • Esteban meets the Count Jean de Satigny, a Frenchman who's looking for a partner to put up the capital for a chinchilla farm. The Count stays as a guest at Tres Marías.
  • One night the Count sees Blanca sneaking off to the river in the middle of the night. This bothers him because he feels it could interfere with his plan to get rich by marrying the main man's daughter. The next day he asks Esteban Trueba for Blanca's hand in marriage. Esteban agrees, but Blanca is furious and won't accept the Count.
  • Jaime decides to become a doctor so he can help the needy. He and Pedro Tercero form a friendship that Jaime keeps secret from his father, and the two young men meet to talk about politics and social justice.
  • Nicolás's two primary interests are seducing women and trying to cultivate the powers of his mind so he can learn to predict the future and move objects by telekinesis like his mother.
  • Old Pedro García dies, and his creepy grandson Esteban García nearly sticks a nail through his eye. Blanca arrives just in time to prevent the kid from completely mutilating his grandfather's body.
  • The Trueba family holds a funeral for Old Pedro García. Esteban Trueba spares no expense, wanting to honor the man who saved his plantation from the plague of ants and who mended his bones after the big earthquake. Count Jean de Satigny enthusiastically takes lots of photos of the dead man. Many people come from the town and neighboring haciendas to honor the old man, including two priests, who are invited to stay in the house.
  • One of the priests turns out to be Pedro Tercero García in disguise. He spreads his Socialist ideas amongst the tenant farmers during the day, and meets Blanca by the river at night.
  • The Socialist party has a new candidate who travels the countryside giving passionate speeches. The peasant farmers from Tres Marías go to listen to him, but are afraid to support him because they're worried about the retaliation of the patrón.
  • Shortly after Pedro García's funeral, Blanca begins experiencing strange symptoms that suggest she may be pregnant. Jean de Satigny notices, but that doesn't deter him in his attempts to woo her.
  • Blanca and Jean de Satigny grow to be friends, but Blanca still maintains she'll never marry him. Blanca gives Jean de Satigny a book by the Poet (most likely Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1971), and the Count says it's the best poetry ever written.
  • Jean de Satigny spies on Blanca and is aware of her late-night trips to the river.
  • The Count tries to convince Esteban Trueba to invest in his chinchilla scheme by setting up a mini-farm with a handful of rodents as a test. The chinchillas die of a mysterious disease, so Esteban really loses interest.
  • His chinchilla plan having failed, Jean de Satigny grows increasingly desperate to marry the heiress of Esteban's estate. The Count decides to follow Blanca one night when she goes to see Pedro Tercero by the river, and catches the two lovers sleeping naked together. The Count wakes Esteban Trueba to tell him about Blanca's love affair.
  • Esteban Trueba is really mad. So he gets on his horse, finds Blanca, and beats her with a horse whip until she's practically comatose. Then he picks her up, puts her on the horse, and carries her home.
  • Clara cleans Blanca and rocks her to sleep.
  • Esteban yells at Clara for raising their daughter without morals.
  • Clara points out that Pedro Tercero García hasn't done anything that Esteban hasn't done himself. Both men have slept with women of a different social class. The only difference is that Pedro Tercero García did it for love.
  • Esteban responds by hitting Clara in the face and knocking out her front teeth.
  • Esteban tries to apologize to Clara but she pushes him away and seeks comfort from Pedro Segundo García. Clara never speaks to Esteban again, and stops wearing her wedding ring.
  • Two days later, Clara and Blanca return to the city. Pedro Segundo García drives them and the two have a tearful farewell.
  • Pedro Segundo García packs up and leaves Tres Marías, explaining to Esteban that he doesn't want to be around when the patrón finds his son.
  • The narrative switches to first-person, and we hear Esteban Trueba tell his side of the story.
  • Esteban thinks of all the people in his life that he's lost, and feels very alone.
  • Esteban blames Pedro Tercero García for his fight with Blanca and Clara. He becomes obsessed with catching and punishing Pedro Tercero. Esteban offers a reward for anyone who will tell him where the boy's hiding.
  • Esteban has a dream that he's beating Rosa the way he beat Clara.
  • One day Esteban García, the creepy kid who tried to stick a nail in Pedro García's eye, approaches Esteban Trueba and tells him he knows where Pedro Tercero is hiding. We know that Esteban García is Esteban Trueba's illegitimate grandson, but the patrón doesn't know this.
  • Esteban Trueba promises to give Esteban García a reward if he'll take him to Pedro Tercero. Esteban Trueba grabs his rifle and Esteban García takes him to the old German mill, where Pedro Tercero has been hiding.
  • Pedro Tercero García is asleep when Esteban Trueba finds him. Esteban Trueba sneaks up on him and nearly blows his head off with the rifle, but Pedro Tercero wakes up just in time to dodge the bullet. Pedro Tercero knocks the gun out of Esteban's hands, and the two men have a face-off.
  • Esteban Trueba grabs an axe that's lying nearby and attacks Pedro Tercero. He succeeds in chopping off three fingers from Pedro Tercero's right hand. Pedro Tercero escapes, leaving a trail of blood.
  • Esteban Trueba actually feels relieved that he didn't manage to kill Pedro Tercero. But it still takes Esteban a while to calm down.
  • Esteban García picks up the severed fingers and offers them to Esteban Trueba, like a "bouquet of bloody asparagus" (6.88). Sick. Esteban Trueba is grossed out.
  • The two Estebans return to Tres Marías. Esteban García asks Esteban Trueba for a reward, and Esteban Trueba slaps the kid, saying there's no reward for traitors. He forbids Esteban García from telling anyone what happened.
  • The chapter closes with both Estebans weeping with rage.

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