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House of the Spirits

In Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Esteban Trueba is the principal male character. During the course of the novel, Trueba increases his power in the world as he progresses in status from a conservative landowner to a powerful senator. He is tyrannical, treating his family members and the tenants on his family hacienda, Tres Maras, like subjects rather than intimate community. The basis for most of Trueba's actions is the desire for power, control, and wealth, and he pursues these things at any cost, disregarding his emotional decline and the effects of his actions upon the people in his life. The most brutal display of Trueba’s power are the many rapes he performs in Las Tres Maras: “…not a girl passed from puberty to adulthood that he did not subject to the woods, the riverbank, or the wrought-iron bed…he began to chase after those from the neighboring haciendas, take them in the wink of an eye, anywhere he could find a place in the fields.” (63) Trueba rationalizes away his guilt, absolves his sins by “harden[ing] his soul and silenc[ing] his conscience with the excuse of progress” (63). His actions, however, come back to haunt him later in the novel, when the product of one of his rapes, his illegitimate grandson, Esteban Garcia, becomes a leader in the military regime and captures his beloved Alba, who is tortured and raped by Garcia's men. Trueba also desires control over his wife, daughter, and granddaughter. He wants “control over that undefined and luminous material that lay with her [Clara] and that escaped him” (96). In addition, when Clara stated, “You can’t keep the world from changing, Esteban. If it’s not Pedro Tercero Garca, someone else will bring new ideas to Tres Maras,” (170) Trueba “brought his cane down on the soup tureen his wife had in her hands and knocked it to the floor, splattering its contents.” (170) Thus, a...

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