Topic: relationships and its importance
Throughout time, regardless of olden or modern ages, the human need/necessity to form connections/relations with others has always been present. Within Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Gabriel Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, the recurring role of relationships has become more than a crucial theme in their stories. The relationships established made both novels almost believable, molding seemingly static roles to dynamic ones [and] gingerly mimicking the associations we form in real life. Upon scrutinizing each of the characters’ bonds, it is seen that they delve further into the reality and gravity of relationships, whether if they are in a romantic or rushed sense. Through their legacies and individual stories, the characters from Allende’s work portray and even embody the importance (or role) of relationships. The “r” that stands for relationships does not merely limit itself to only romance, it can also personify the ability to become ripe, reliable, and even the overwhelming rush of them too.
A common interpretation of relationships is the raw romance experienced by passionate couples, however, Allende unveils the dark reality of the “rush” of them too. While reigning over his hacienda, Esteban’s frustrating sexual drive destroyed the lives of many young women, which was all due to his urge of wanting to feel “the pleasure of the flesh”. The male characters of Allende’s The House of the Spirits share the same habit of dehumanizing women as mere instruments of pleasure and being overly proud of their authority upon them. Similarly, Gloria Duran points out that the Spanish Surrealist painter, Remedios Varo, had similar ideas to Allendes’. The love-hate relationship of Esteban and Clara is comparable to the autobiographical painting “in which the house is seen as tower-prison… in which the captive becomes so drained of life that she merges into the furniture” made by Varo (Durán 9). Varo’s and Allende’s works illustrate how women are confined by the fast paced relationships and track of thought, in these scenarios, brought on by the overpowering males, which demonstrates that through their eyes, the women have value equal to only being pleasure materials or better yet pieces of furniture (that they can utilize and throw away if useless). Esteban’s entire character concentrates on the whole conservative notion/idea of women being docile and “man-handled”, which thus leads him to think forcing girls and women into a rushed relationship is entirely normal. Esteban may have been seen as civilized at first, but in the end, he became the central symbol of a savage. His mother, Dona Ester Trueba, even says “my god! you look like a savage” (Allende 106) on her deathbed, which doesn’t even faze Esteban’s attitude of himself. Afterwards, Esteban may have shaved and cleaned up his outer appearance, but when his mother labeled him a savage, he really should have checked his inner personality.
However, Allende shows that despite the risky ones, relationships are significant to open up and ripen a maiden’s heart, romantically or not. The newspaper, The Guardian, unveils the conservative labeling of “men being historically associated with rationality, straightforwardness, and logic; women with unpredictable emotions, outbursts, and madness” (Nunn 15-16).
Most notably, Almodovar and Allende’s works both portray heroines whose actions shatter this reasoning completely, which are Pepa and Alba respectively. The likeness between these two became apparent when I realized Pepa and Alba both were once very dependent on their lovers. However, towards the end of their stories, they sprouted into individuals who were free to think for themselves. Furthermore, both female protagonists broke away from the vicious cycle of revenge and hate, which, “obviously”, was created by the wicked and corrupt men. How did they do it though? Instead of giving into her stereotype and basing herself only off of emotion (like Lucia), Pepa rationalizes her anger and hatred to the point of even saving the life of the man who undermined and ignored her. While Ivan was swept away in his desire of lust and the glamour of new women, Pepa had the chance to ignore his dire situation and let him bear what he deserved. However instead she became the bigger, more levelheaded person and chose to save his life.
Important characteristic values of a relationship are also the reliable and raw traits. Allende demonstrates this through the strong relationships and actions between her female characters: Clara and Blanca. Even though she was upset when she discovered Blanca’s midnight escapades, Clara does not tell Esteban about it. Furthermore, Clara remains faithful to Blanca when Esteban rages over Blanca’s “impurity”, even taking her first punch from him because of her daughter. The mother and daughter bond of Clara and Blanca is so powerful that one takes abuse for another, which not only portrays Clara’s love for Blanca, but also Clara’s reliability as a mother. This is also seen inVolver as Raimunda takes full responsibility of Paco’s murder, even though Paula committed it. As Raimunda struggles to clean up the evidence and even take over a friend’s restaurant (without permission) to get rid of the body, she too illustrates how her daughter isn’t alone in this; they can get through the murder and other griefs of life together as a family. Additionally, a lot of Augustina’s personality was reflected in Ferula’s as they both had the charitable characteristic of taking care of others. As Augustina religiously takes care of Aunt Paula with the hope of someone doing the same to her missing mother, Ferula also parallels this train of thought as she dedicates her service to Clara. Both women help others and long for them to reciprocate the same quality of care to either themselves or loved ones. In Ferula’s case, she mainly took care of others to feel needed and only wanted love and compassion in return. On the other hand, Augustina properly took care of Aunt Paula in hope that her mother was being treated to the same level of comfort. So in a sense, both women devote their entire lives to others in a means of secretly conveying their own desires. These raw emotions experienced through the relationships between these two women are the inner reflections we barely see as an audience (since these characters are so closed off). Allende shows how the rawness of relationships really mark the importance of these bonds.
Cooper, Sara E. Family Systems and National Subversion in Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Dulfano, Isabel. “A Response to Isabel Allende’s Tanner Humanities Center Human Values Speech.” N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Durán, Gloria. “WOMEN AND HOUSES – FROM POE TO ALLENDE.”Confluencia 6.2 (1991): 9-15. JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
Jenkins, Ruth Y. Authorizing Female Voice and Experience: Ghosts and Spirits in Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Allende’s The House of the Spirits. N.p., 1 Sept. 1994. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
One dark and gloomy Tuesday afternoon, a particular lad sulked into his favorite grey armchair. The lad was turning a grand 31 this year, but was not, nonetheless, excited for any sort of celebration. The peculiar man, who still considered himself a mere boy, even sneered at the thought of how he managed to pass another weighty and burdensome year. As he continued to ponder on and relive his worst memories of the past year, the phone rang brightly and loudly. The boy stiffened and reached for the phone, it was his meddlesome sister again.
“Anders! Happy birthday little brother!”
The boy shriveled at the nostalgic sound of the woman’s voice and did not reply. However, the woman on the phone was charmingly relentless. “I’ll be coming to your birthday party at around nine, okay? I’ll bring a cake and everything, just like good old times!” the woman said cheerily.
“Beth. There is no party”
“That’s why I’m throwing you one silly! Tonight. You should be happy that I’m at least hosting it at your apartment. Mrs. Pepilis even said that she rarely sees you go out for grocery shopping anymore… so I figured I could bring the party to you! And don’t worry, I won’t bring your troublesome nephews, just us and Mrs. P, okay? Ah, want to say hi to the kids while we’re at it? Bill’s here too!” However, the growing lively atmosphere only darkened the boy’s mood further for he responded an immediate “no thanks” and hung up the phone. The bland air that constantly swirled the boy now began to suffocate him once more. The boy sighed, reached for a carton of cigarettes, lit the butt, and exhaled in mediocre satisfaction. The boy’s frustrations of his sister’s nosiness and his old neighbor’s useless motherly worries all hung in the smoke-filled air, making it heavier with gloom. His velvety grey armchair was perfect in scenarios like these, the greater the distress, the more inviting and comfortable the chair seemed to be. The boy’s chair was like a warm cabin in a frosty winter’s storm, like his own haven that disconnected him from the world, heck, it was even like his version of Beth’s kids and significant other. Yes, such a chair was dangerously crucial, for the boy was too contented with the worn down object. It was the only thing that truly made him feel at ease being alone. It was the origin and destructor of all his emotions; as he sank into the lush seating, he slowly unraveled the parts of him he never knew existed. But each time he stood from the fluffed pads, it was as if he awoke from a deep slumber. He resealed the hole he made while pondering in his chair and forgot the eureka’s he accumulated for self-improvement.
The boy abruptly stood up as he thought and thought of the day’s progressions: the neighbor’s loud dog barking again, his sister’s displeasing call, and even the very importance of birthdays itself—it was all too overwhelming. He finally sat back down on his beloved for the third time that day. Beginning to feel drowsy, the boy sank deeper into his chair and let it swallow him whole.
Although the supposed “party” swung into full action exactly at nine like Beth had promised, the night had grown moody and unwilling to shine even its dullest stars. The foggy, dark weather well suited the boy’s tattooed frown and obvious displeasure, yet the two unwelcome guests overlapped the dark bearings with their own vibrant gestures and ramblings. Still, the nosy sister and overly worrisome granny were uneasy with the boy’s lack of happiness, after all, it should be a joyous occasion. Prepared for such a turn of events, Beth also frowned and exclaimed, “Oh no, the cake! I forgot the cake at the store, Mrs. Pepilis! How could I have forgotten?” Beth turned slightly to the kind neighbor and winked. Catching on, Mrs. Pepilis briefly scolded Beth for her lack of responsibility and turned to the boy, “Anders, it’s far too late for your beautiful sister and an old, senile woman such as myself to go out, pick up the cake for us will you?”
For the first time since the start of the party, the boy agreed with his peers and unfolded himself from his beloved chair. “Don’t forget to wear your hat and scarf!” replied Mrs. Pepilis, referring to last year’s birthday presents. Stepping out into the cool, dark night, the boy felt uneasy, but still refreshed compared to how he felt while he was locked up inside his home with the intruders. However, the boy was unaware of how ridiculous he looked. The boy’s bright pink winter hat bounced, yellow knitted scarf swayed, puffy black jacket wiggled, and Hawaiian flowered shorts screamed for attention, yet forgetful of his surroundings, the boy marched on.
The boy meets a group of 4 adolescent teenagers while he has the cake. They barely stifle their laughs, bending their backs slightly back, the posture used for the best kinds of laughs. It came off as eerie to him, like they were a bunch of maniacal hyenas just before bouncing onto their prey. He sees they are crowded around something–somebody? He begins to quicken his pace. Out of a moment of curiosity, (as he gets closer) he steps a bit nearer, squinting his eyes to see what they were so eager about. It was a stray cat. Its tail was stomped off and one of the meatier boys preventing the cat from escaping sat on it. Still, the cat fought back, bending its paws to have a better angle to slice the ear of the pumpkin boy.
But it had no such weapon. It was declawed.
Savagely and desperately, it still bucked and churned like a wild stallion, pawing the smile of the pumpkin boy. And then, it died.
He dropped the cake and ran home
Boy went home and wept to two caretakers and hugged them lovingly as they presented him with his super-deluxe surprise special. The boy realized he couldn’t stay a boy forever.