The house of the Spirits has been described in a manner that shows the class struggle that existed in Chile. Isabel Allende has given a detailed account of the struggles that occurred in Chile especially in the twentieth century. She began to write a letter that she addressed to her grandfather when she learnt that he was very sick and could die. She began to write the letter in 1981 that was later published in Barcelona in 1985. The first editions of the novel were written in French, German and Italian languages. The English version of the novel was written in 1985. The story in the novel was captivating judging by the fact that the four editions of the books sold as bestsellers. She became one of the most well-known female writers of Latin America, in the late twentieth century.Â The House of the Spirits continuously pulls the attention of the reader to class and social discrimination in the country. The postcolonial Chilean country is entrenched in the patriarchal power structure to a larger extent. This issue keeps the native populace poor and ill-educated. The native populace accounted for the largest number of the citizens of Chile. On the other hand, the scenario favored the white minority and made them wealthy and empowered. This paper will examine the way silence and memory is used in the novel both in support of and in defiance of social injustice.
Before the publication of the novel, Latin America had seen progress and boom in terms of productivity in farming and commercial activities. This was the case especially in the period of 1962 onwards. Writers who lived at that period wrote about these successes and influenced the literature of that period, which was referred to as â€œthe boom in Latin American Fiction.â€ The House of the Spirits was written after fifteen years of the impact of the boom in Latin America, especially in Chile.Â Writers who had written earlier set a ground for Isabel Allende by creating a global interest in Latin American literature, creating market for literature and creating an awareness bout he literary absence of female writers in Latin America literature that was dominated by her male predecessors (Allende 29).
In the novel, class and social struggles and injustice comes up as a key theme. The Del Valle family has been described as a wealthy family that belongs to the upper and minority class in the Chilean twentieth century set up. They are liberal in terms of politics. It is in this stance that Isabel Allende shows the reader that class ranking was not based on money alone. This is seen clearly in Esteban’s family that belongs to the upper class. They belong to the upper class not because they are wealthy but because of the name of their mother that places her in the upper class of Peru. Dona Ester’s maiden name is derived from â€œthe viceroyalty of Limaâ€, which puts Esteban directly related to the Spanish crown. Esteban’s family and Del Valles were born and lived in South America but were directly related to Spaniards. Esteban’s mother got married to an immigrant who did not belong to the upper class. She lost all the money she had and ha to work hard to earn a living. However, this does not remove her from the upper class. The class standing is dependent on material wealth to a certain degree and thus is passed through genealogy (spirits 43).
Gender also plays an important role in class analysis. The narrators in the novel do not mention or describe gender inequalities in an explicit manner. Instead, the narrators show the gender inequalities that existed in the country by describing the different experiences that men and women underwent, in that period. For example, when Esteban was financially unstable, he went out and looked for a job that enabled him to improve the circumstances that he was in. On the other hand, his sister known as Ferula did not have the chance to go out like Esteban. The only option she had was to find a man who was wealthy, to marry her. In addition, the fact that she was a woman compounded her situation because the care of her mother was placed on her, as her responsibility. Gender differentiation and inequality also comes up in the class situation of the peasants. This is seen when Esteban goes to Tres Marias. He notices that few men are present because the others had to go out and look for employment (Allende 40). On the other hand, women had to remain at home and take care of their children and the elderly. This is clearly seen in Trueba’s Family. Esteban also perpetuates gender differentiation and inequality when he distributes bonuses for the Christmas vacation because it is the men who are the heads and breadwinners of their families. The House of Spirits also describes the social injustice that was evident in the postcolonial country. The country is still set up in a patriarchal power structured set up. The story is narrated in a male perspective and concentrates on the fulfillment or the frustration of male protagonists in terms of the goals, struggles and love issues, in the story (Allende 41).
Alba does not remember the shocking encounter that she had with Esteban Garcia when she was six years old and on her fourteenth birthday until she becomes eighteen years old and falls in love with Miguel. Her lack of memory support and defy the social injustice. It supports social injustice in the sense that it shows how men were inhuman to the extent of raping women yet there was no action taken against such men. It defies social injustice in the sense that because nothing could be done to the injustices lay against women, they had to go on. Alba defies the horrible experience she had with Garcia in her early life and falls in love with Miguel. Trueba who also saw what Garcia was trying to do to Alba; she does not mention it to anyone else because she knows that it is a man’s world.
Alba encounters another social injustice when the police arrest her. They attack her in the middle of the night; terrorize workers that destroy her books and personal documents by burning them. When Trueba protests, the police knock Alba tie cover her eyes and carry her in their van, physically abusing her. Garcia defiles and abuses her mentally and physically. All the time she keeps her silence and when fed up with the continuous abuse, she feels hopeless and decides, â€œâ€¦not to breathe or move, and begins eagerly to await her death” (Allende 351). Her silence defies the injustices she passes through in the hands of the police and Garcia because the men are in control of the situation. When she is released, she gives a detailed account of the women who helped her get home. On the other hand, she does not describe the ill treatment she went through in the hands of the male police (Allende 351).
In conclusion, The House of the Spirits addresses the social injustices, gender inequalities and class and social struggles that were existent in Latin America, in the twentieth century. Isabel Allende shows the reader what women passed through in the hand s of men and the problems they passed through especially being in the native populate that was poor and powerless. Silence and lack of memory have been used to support and defy the social injustices that were laid against women.Â