From an early age most people are taught what to do and what not do. Our upbringings also involve the way our society around us interacts. We follow the common saying, “Monkey see, monkey do.” In “If You Touched my Heart,” Isabel Allende uses the character’s personal backgrounds and upbringings also adding the society they live in to justify the way they act.
First, Allende gives the readers a taste of the lifestyle of the main character Amadeo. For instance, she writes Amadeo as growing up in the “midst of his father’s gang, and like all men [in the] family, [growing] up to be a ruffian.” Amadeo was taught very early on in life that a man only needed “balls and quick wits.” In addition, Amadeo’s use for women was only “[to] seduce… and abandon them.” To Amadeo using women just for copulation and leaving them didn’t affect him, so it was easy for him to use Hortensia. Also, Allende describes Hortensia’s upbringings. At the tender age of fifteen, Horetensia lived in a village in Agua Santa.
While she was working on a graveling a pathway and singing a song to entertain her though her work, Amadeo met her. He was so captivated by her and her music he had to have her. Since, Hortensia was so young the naïve, she fell for Amadeo’s “recitation of seduction, all of which [Amadeo] could have omitted because the girl was simple… she did not understand the meaning of his words.” After their brief encounter, he left her village not even knowing the girl’s name. She was the one who came running to look for him because he was such an important part of her life now. Since Amadeo knew she was simple minded and she was in love with him, he could do as he pleased with her. Overall, Amadeo knew he was taking advantage of a child who was enchanted with him.
Allende tries to show the reader exactly what made Hortensia decide to stay with Amadeo for forty-seven years in an abandoned sugar mill. Amadeo’s excuse to himself for hiding Hortensia was because “[she] was the one who searched for him; it was she who planted herself before him and clung to his shirt with terrifying submission of a slave;” Amadeo didn’t love Hortensia the way she loved him. He had more of a need that only Hortensia could fulfill. In addition, Hortensia was never interested in the outside world. People said she was a “woman [with a] calling to be a slave and was happy being one… she never exhibited any curiosity about the world [and] complained about nothing.” Hortensia was just content with what she had. She believed she had more love from Amadeo than anyone else. Amadeo made her believe she was the only one for him by promising her a life full of “gifts, and dresses and jewels fit for a queen.” In the final analysis Hortensia stayed because to her it didn’t matter she was all by herself in the sugar mill; she was in love and she knew Amadeo would always love her.
Allende also shows how the society can be connected to the incident with Hortensia and Amadeo. She shows how the communities that Amadeo and Hortensia live in justify the actions Amadeo took. Allende shows the readers that Amadeo’s society is very machismo. In the beginning Allende introduces the readers to an “era of undisguised plunder [which] had been replaced by corruption and bribery.” All around Amadeo, his society seemed to be full of deceitful and conniving men who used those skills to get ahead in life. Also, Allende shows how domestically dominated by men women were in the story. When “reporters asked Amadeo why he locked [Hortensia] up like a miserable beast,” he just answered, “because [he] felt like it.” To him the way treated Hortensia, was the right way “he could not understand the belated outcry over something that happened so long ago.” Women in this society were never asked their opinions or how they felt. In contrast they were told how to feel, act, and behave.
Finally, Allende shows the readers a glimpse of Amadeo’s upbringings, but never mentions Hortensia’s. It can thus be concluded that Hortensia might not have any family, which is why no one came to look for her after she was missing for so many years. To Hortensia having no family and being an orphan might have had an impact to drive her to be with Amadeo because he was the only one who never loved her at all.
In the end, Isabel Allende shows how Hortensia and Amadeo through their upbringings justified how they acted toward one another and also showed how their society played a part in their attitudes. It shows how the way people are raised and the society around them can play a vital role in their development.