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The House of Spirits

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    Life in Affection Much of The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende revolves around the life of one of its main characters Esteban Trueba. Esteban Trueba is an aggressive, violent character whose only goals throughout the novel are to achieve success and power. The reader sees his brutal nature through the way he deals with people around him, whom in his eyes are all significantly inferior. However, one minor character in The House of the Spirits seems to change Trueba’s aggressive nature. When Esteban first meets Transito Soto, she is a prostitute in a brother nearby to his farm in Tres Marias.

    However, she soon proves much more worthy. What may seem like an insignificant meeting at first turns out to affect his life over and over again throughout the story, as she reappears several times throughout Esteban’s life. When Esteban first meets Transito, the novel states that Esteban does not really enjoy going to brothels, such as the Red Lantern, but that he enjoyed spending time with Transito. This is already a shock to the reader, since very few things in life make Esteban laugh, Transito being one of them. One of their first encounters put Esteban in a generous mood, which is again, something that rarely happened to him.

    When he tells Transito of his generosity, she asks him for 50 pesos to “start”. Transito is clearly planning to take this money and use it as a sort of investment for her future. Esteban gladly hands it to her and says that he will miss her. Transito replies, “But we will see each other, patron. Life is long and full of unexpected turns. ” (Allende, 69) Here, there is a clear sign of foreshadowing. Transito will most certainly pop up again later in his life. The next time Esteban meets Transito, he is already married to Clara, the love of his life.

    However, even Clara can’t alter his brutal nature the way Transito seems to be able to. In fact, the reason he goes to the Christopher Columbus, is partially out of vengeance towards Clara. When he meets her again, he is shocked. Physically, she was completely different than he had remembered, but her ability to bring joy to Esteban’s life, even if temporary, remained the same. During this encounter, the reader sees even more significance to Transito’s words. Transito gives a long speech about forming a cooperative in the brothel in order to overthrow the madam.

    The irony here is extremely prevalent, in that Esteban himself is like a madam – he is the patron who overlooks hundreds of tenants, and if they formed a cooperative, they too could overthrow him. The language is very specific in this section of the novel. Transito even states, “What do we need a patron for? ” (Allende, 118) She specifically always refers to Esteban as “patron”. This line again serves to foreshadow, but this time it foreshadows Esteban’s future demise. In addition, Transito also offers to reimburse Esteban for the 50 pesos he lent her years before.

    He, however, only requests that she owe him a favor, another line that foreshadows future encounters. Lastly, the most important line that proves her not only appearance but important in the future, is when Esteban says, “I wouldn’t have mentioned this episode if Transito Soto hadn’t played such an important role in my life a long time later…” (Allende, 119) Their last encounter is most certainly the most significant. All of the foreshadowing, meetings and exchange of words and favors have led up to this one, last reunion which would change Esteban’s life permanently.

    Transito has always been a character who has brought bits of happiness here and there whenever Esteban felt like he really needed it. Now, however, she would change his life forever. When Esteban meets Transito for the last time, she is the owner of a huge hotel. Everything she told him she would do, she did. Here there is a direct parallel between the rise of Transito, and the fall of Esteban. There is almost a shift of power between them. When Esteban meets Transito, he asks her to find Alba for him, since she has been kidnapped by his grandson Esteban Garcia.

    He spilled his heart to Transito Soto about everything that has gone on in his life since they last met. He begs her to find his only granddaughter, so he can bring her home safe. She does exactly what he asks of her. Esteban comments on her success saying, “Transito Soto has gotten where she has, because among other things, she knows how to pay her debts. I supposed she used her knowledge of the most secret side of men in power to return the 50 pesos I once lent her. ” (Allende, 421) Transito Soto’s character signifies distinct periods in Esteban’s life. When he first meets her, he is just starting out in Tres Marias.

    He is somewhat lost and has no one at his side. When he meets her at the Christopher Columbus, he is at the peak of his financial and marital success. The love of his life, Clara, is pregnant with twin boys, he is one of the richest men in the area, and leads the life he thought he always wanted. It is in this stage of his life where his decline begins. Transito Soto begins to gain power, as the madam is overthrown and she starts her own business. By the end of the novel, Esteban has no one but his granddaughter, his physical appearance portrays his mental deterioration as he is shrinking, and a shriveled up old man.

    The trade off in power between Esteban and Transito, both socially and financially serves a bigger purpose in the novel. It portrays the shift in power from men to women as well. The women in the family always seemed to have the control, no matter how much Esteban thought he did. He finally realizes at the end of the novel that he did not lead the life he wanted, but the life of a bitter, violent man. Transito is a clear symbol of Esteban’s demise throughout the novel, and the power the women hold, even if it is not always evident to the men around them.

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