In Isabel Allende’s novel The House of the Spirits, there are two definitive classes of people that are present throughout the novel. The poor class, including the peasants of Tres Marias and the socialist party members, has continual resentment towards the other class, which is the wealthy aristocratic class. The wealthy division of the novel shows little humanity towards the poor, treats the poor as servants, and control all politics involved in the country.
The wealthy’s treatment of the lower class shattered the peace experienced by Chile because the poor and the wealthy maintained a struggle to co-exist with such division between their classes. The struggles between the two classes was first established early on in the novel at Tres Marias where Estreban Trueba makes it clear that he is the leader of the land and the rest of the tenants were much less important than him. Trueba was a part of the wealthy class and he takes the peasants that are housed on his land and he takes complete advantage of the people there.
Word of his cruelty spread throughout the region, provoking jealous admiration among the men of his class. The peasants hid their daughters and clenched their fists helplessly because they could not confront him. Esteban Trueba was stronger, and he had impunity” (Allende 63). There was nothing that the peasants could do to a man of a higher class and Trueba takes full advantage of this. He acts as though he is untouchable throughout the novel and that the wealthy class can do whatever they please.
Esteban Trueba speaks of how he believes that since he is in a higher and wealthier class, he is free to do anything that he wishes, including raping the women of Tres Marias. Esteban sees the people that live on his land as lesser human beings and Esteban believes that “poor people are completely ignorant and uneducated. They’re like children, they can’t handle responsibility. How could they know what’s best for them? Without [Trueba] they’d be lost” (64). This attitude that the wealthy class has for those in the book ignites the resentment felt by the poor class that resounds in the rest of the story.
The inequality that is present between these two classes is unbelievable throughout the book that even parts of the wealthy class begin to realize the damage that their right wing government has caused to the lower division of Chile. Even Esteban Trueba’s immediate family senses the problems that the poor face. “[Clara] now took Blanca with her on her visits to the poor, weighed down with gifts and comfort. ‘This is to assuage our conscience, darling,’ she would explain to Blanca. ‘But it doesn’t help the poor. They don’t need charity, they need justice’” (136).
Because of this unequal treatment of the classes and the resentment that the poor held for the wealthy, the two classes could not continue to co-exist. The incessant struggle that the lower class faced when the wealthy controlled everything forced them to begin a revolution so that they can finally take control of their own lives instead of living to please the wealthy. Throughout the novel, the wealthy controlled every part of the country’s government and therefore, they controlled the country as a whole until the day that Esteban Trueba lost the election and the socialist party came to power.
This is when the poor finally ceased to be dominated by the wealthy. “They lit torches, and the jumble of voices and dancing in the streets became a disciplined, jubilant procession that advanced toward the well-tended avenues of the bourgeoisie, creating the unaccustomed spectacle of ordinary citizens – factory workers in their heavy work shoes, women with babies in their arms, students in shirt-sleeves – calmly marching through the private, expensive neighborhood where they had rarely ventured before, and in which they were complete foreigners” (340).
After the socialist victory there was room for a class that was previously completely blocked from the wealthy areas of living as well as in the government. The poor and the wealthy became much more even in terms of rights which, in turn, made the two classes much less divided. With such deplorable treatment of the lower class, the two classes could never co-exist peacefully unless there was a dramatic change in Chile. With a socialist victory over the conservatives, there was room for the differences between the poor and the wealthy to be diminished and for the country to be diplomatic.
Courtney from Study Moose
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