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The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant 
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Post The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
The House of the Spirits
Isabel Allende

Clara the Clairvoyant



Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:52 pm
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Ahh! I suddenly saw the connection between Barrabas the dog, and Esteban in this chapter, and on re- reading it, discovered that it was not Esteban’s love for Clara that changed Esteban’s whoring ways, but the realisation that his mother loved him dearly, and that the poverty and deprivation of his younger years were not maliciously intended on her part. ‘Mama,’ Esteban murmured, and his voice broke in his chest, exploding into a contained sobbing that erased in a single stroke his sad memories, and greasy soup of his impoverished childhood . . .’ He also realises how much he does, in fact love his mother, and the grief and guilt he feels at his neglect of her are tangible.
Barrabas, the dog has the same enormous sexual appetite and disregard for the female of his species as Esteban . When there was a bitch in heat in the environs, he would ‘hurl himself onto the street, overcoming every obstacle in his path, and remain at large for two or three days. He always returned with the poor bitch hanging off him, suspended in the air, impaled on his immense masculinity……’ When they were eventually hosed free, ‘Barrabas became unstuck from his beloved, leaving her to die in the courtyard of the house . . . .’
Esteban takes the place of Barrabas the dog, always trying to please Clara with gifts, and hoping to win her love. Any bets on who killed the dog? Mine would be on Esteban. He would have been insanely jealous of any love that Clara did not devote to him. He knew Clara had not married out of love.


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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Mind you, I also suspected Nana. She had previously tried to poison Barrabas, but the cod liver oil 'gave him a four-day case of diarrhea that covered the house from top to bottom and that she herself had to clean'. I don't think she would have stuck a knife in him, she was a more surreptitious killer, and that method would have upset Clara too much. In fact, on re-reading, I don't think that Esteban's skinning of the dog and turning him into a mat was, as I first thought, grossly unfeeling and inconsiderate. I think it was a deliberate and triumphant statement.


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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
I think the dog-skin rug was really an attempt by Esteban to please Clara - I think he thought she would love it. Ferula said, "I told you she wouldn't like it." Inferring, Esteban thought she would like it. He simply didn't understand that the rug could only be a terrible reminder of a horrible loss. I believe most people would empathize with Clara in this situation - I doubt most of us have made rugs of our beloved pets - and I think it shows how Esteban lacks empathy and a "normal" set of emotions.



Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:30 pm
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Kelstan - I put a query into Google and apparently some people do stuff their pets. Totally creepy. There are even a few videos on Youtube, but I was too squeamish to watch!


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Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:43 am
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Yes, some people will do anything, but I think most of us would see that as "icky." Did you know you can have a sweater or blanket made from your pet's hair? You just collect it until you have enough and they spin it and knit you whatever. Gross!



Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:03 am
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Who do you reckon killed the dog? Someone unknown in the celebrations? The same person who tried to poison Severo? it certainly put a dramatic end to the celebrations, so perhaps not Esteban then.


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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
As I read it, the death of Barrabas, running to meet Clara at her engagement party with a large butcher's knife in his back, was a rather surreal omen and mystery. I don't recall reading any clues as to the culprit.

It is all very similar to the death of Rosa, which is also an unsolved mystery, and perhaps also to the big unsolved mystery of how Chile allowed the military coup in 1973.

If the people and the oligarchs imagine they can be happily married, they have another thing coming. There is deep hatred and violence lurking beneath the surface. The House of the Spirits symbolises the meeting of the legitimate extremes of Chilean society. For a clairvoyant with leftist tendencies to marry a business man and aspiring conservative politician is rather disturbing. No wonder the symbol of the lucky escape from the cross also meets a similar fate as the one he was chosen instead of.

Maybe someone is saying they do not want the wedding to happen.


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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
heledd wrote:
Ahh!
Esteban takes the place of Barrabas the dog, always trying to please Clara with gifts, and hoping to win her love. Any bets on who killed the dog? Mine would be on Esteban. He would have been insanely jealous of any love that Clara did not devote to him. He knew Clara had not married out of love.


He may of been behind it. Had someone else do the killing. But on page 20 it says this..."It was said that he would not stop growing, and that if a butcher's cruelty had not put an end to his existence, he would have reached the size of a camel."



Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:09 am
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Quote:
I don't recall reading any clues as to the culprit.


I thought that was rather mean of Allende, actually!. I don't think there could have been any objection to the marriage. Clara and Esteban are of the same class, although of very different temperments. They are very similar to Nivea and Severo. I loved the hypocrisy Allende exposes in her description of the Pantagruelian feast (I had to look the word up) at the exchange of rings. This lavish feast was served with the utmost simplicity by servants wearing their everyday black aprons '...because any display of extravagance was a sign of vulgarity that would be condemned as a sin of vanity and bad taste, according to the austere and somewhat lugubrious ancestry of that society descended from hard working Basque and Spanish immigrants'
Now if Esteban had married Transito Soto, the prostitute, and Clara had married the peasant Pedro Segunda Garcia, that would have caused outrage (although they did seem to be soul mates)


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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
heledd wrote:
Mind you, I also suspected Nana. She had previously tried to poison Barrabas, but the cod liver oil 'gave him a four-day case of diarrhea that covered the house from top to bottom and that she herself had to clean'. I don't think she would have stuck a knife in him, she was a more surreptitious killer, and that method would have upset Clara too much. In fact, on re-reading, I don't think that Esteban's skinning of the dog and turning him into a mat was, as I first thought, grossly unfeeling and inconsiderate. I think it was a deliberate and triumphant statement.


Ah! Now I remember the dog dying. I thought I'd forgotten it. Or just missed it, but now that you mention his skinning the dog and turning him into a mat, I remember it.

What's in the box? The dog's head?



Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:24 pm
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
kelstan wrote:
Yes, some people will do anything, but I think most of us would see that as "icky." Did you know you can have a sweater or blanket made from your pet's hair? You just collect it until you have enough and they spin it and knit you whatever. Gross!


I remember being in the vet's office last year - another woman had her cat there and the doctor was explaining to her that in order to save the cat, it would cost a lot of money.

The poor girl had to put the animal down.

She asked the doctor - can you save her feet?

That stuck in my mind for a long time - I couldn't imagine having Skitter's feet stuffed, or any part of her.

And when I pass on, I don't want anyone having any part of me stuffed.



Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:27 pm
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
As I read it, the death of Barrabas, running to meet Clara at her engagement party with a large butcher's knife in his back, was a rather surreal omen and mystery. I don't recall reading any clues as to the culprit.

***** That was one very annoying dog, from everything I read. The animal was a pain in the neck - so, when you think of it, that could have been anybody who put a knife in the beast's back.

It is all very similar to the death of Rosa, which is also an unsolved mystery, and perhaps also to the big unsolved mystery of how Chile allowed the military coup in 1973.

***** It was made plain - it was her father's enemies - they didn't want him running for office. They left the bottle of poisoned brandy hoping he would drink it.

He gave it to Rosa to drink, when she cut the cake.



Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:31 pm
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
WildCityWoman wrote:
As I read it, the death of Barrabas, running to meet Clara at her engagement party with a large butcher's knife in his back, was a rather surreal omen and mystery. I don't recall reading any clues as to the culprit.

***** That was one very annoying dog, from everything I read. The animal was a pain in the neck - so, when you think of it, that could have been anybody who put a knife in the beast's back.

It is all very similar to the death of Rosa, which is also an unsolved mystery, and perhaps also to the big unsolved mystery of how Chile allowed the military coup in 1973.

***** It was made plain - it was her father's enemies - they didn't want him running for office. They left the bottle of poisoned brandy hoping he would drink it.

He gave it to Rosa to drink, when she cut the cake.


Note - the first and third lines here are quotes from me.

We don't solve a crime by just saying it was committed by enemies of the murdered person. The culprit for leaving the poisoned brandy was never identified, and nor was the culprit who stuck the knife in the dog's back.

The comparison to the coup as a mystery is worth exploring further. It is never made clear in the book who precisely, ie names of individuals, did not want Clara's father in politics, and so left him a warning with poisoned brandy. Nor is it really clear how the coup happened, unless we just blame Henry Kissinger, which does not get to the bottom of the historical conflict between communism and fascism as it played out in Latin America.

These things are very complex, and there are many subterranean interacting currents in operation. This is why Esteban's favorite person, his granddaughter Alba, is fathered by the communist Pedro, showing that despite his conservatism, Estaban is integrally part of the whole Chilean society. The House of the Spirits characters are all related parts of the same society, unlike the fascist dictator who seems to represent bigger outside forces from the USA.


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Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:51 am
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Post Re: The House of the Spirits; Clara the Clairvoyant
Robert - I've always assumed that Clara was half native American. Esteban does love her but thinks she is very plain. Were the peasants native american or just poor Spanish? I was wondering because they all have Spanish names, except for the Segunda and Tercero middle names


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