Clara's father. He runs an affluent household, but because he is a politician, his daughter Rosa ends up dying in his place at the hands of his political adversaries. He himself dies in a car accident along with his wife, Nívea.
Nívea del Valle
Clara's mother. Her name means "snow." She begins the family tradition of developing an especially strong bond with one daughter. She is also a devoted suffragette, and sets an example of empowering others for Clara. She is decapitated in a car accident in which her husband, Severo, also dies. Her severed head, which Clara finds after the funeral, remains in the basement of "the big house on the corner" until Clara's death, when it is buried along with her.
Son of Doña Ester and brother to Férula. As a young man, he wins Rosa's hand and works in a northern mine to earn a fortune. When both his mother and fiancé die, he marries Clara and becomes a famously conservative and violent husband, father, Senator of the Republic, and patron of Tres Marias. He loves his wife and children and works to ensure that they are materially comfortable, but is cruel to them. Some examples of his cruelty are his attempt to kill Pedro Tercero García, his lashing of Blanca, and his knocking out of Clara's teeth. Later in life, Esteban has a special relationship with his granddaughter, Alba. Only with her is he able to express his tenderness. He writes several of the book's chapters as a very old man, and Alba reconstructs much of the rest of it from his memories.
Mother of Esteban and Férula Trueba. She is an heiress, but left poor by her money-grubbing husband. Férula devotes her youth to caring for Doña Ester, who becomes progressively crippled by arthritis until her death.
Sister to Esteban Trueba. She sacrifices her youth in order to care for her mother, Doña Ester, who is deteriorating from arthritis. Férula has a seemingly bottomless penchant for sacrifice and nurturing, which she later directs towards Clara. Esteban banishes her from his household after finding her curled up in bed with Clara, but sends her enough money so that she can live comfortably. Ever abstinent and pious, Férula spends none of the money and lives in a filthy tenement where she says prayers for her poor neighbors. When Férula dies, her ghost visits "the big house on the corner" one last time to bid farewell to Clara.
The youngest daughter of Severo and Nívea del Valle, whose name means "clear." She is a clairvoyant who can communicate with spirits, read dreams, and predict the future. Clara also has a corresponding disregard for material things. From childhood, she develops a habit of staying silent for extended periods of time when she is distraught. She marries Esteban Trueba, with whom she has Blanca, Nícolas, and Jaime. As matriarch of the Trueba household, she brings a great joy that goes with her when she dies.
Daughter of Clara and Esteban Trueba. Her name means "white." She is considered "the first normal person for generations" because she is not the least bit inclined to supernatural endeavors. She learns the craft of pottery from old Pedro García, and later makes a business selling her unusual creches. Blanca knows Pedro Tercero García to be the love of her life from a young age. She loses her virginity to him and becomes pregnant with Alba, but then is forced to marry Jean de Satigny to cover the scandal. After she leaves the count, she and Pedro Tercero manage to meet on weekends to continue their affair and eventually escape to Canada, with Esteban Trueba's help.
One of Clara and Esteban's twin sons. He spends much of his life trying to "find himself" in endeavors ranging from teaching flamenco to making passionate love to Amanda to starting the Institution for Union with Nothingness. As Alba's uncle, he tries to train her in the skills of mind-over-matter. He spends his adulthood as a nudist vegetarian and extreme spiritualist and develops a large following. Most famously, he lies naked in the street in front of the gates of Congress in protest against his own father. A disgraced Esteban Trueba sends Nícolas out of the country, but provides him with ample money. Nícolas eventually gains wealth and respect for his teachings in North America.
One of Clara and Esteban Trueba's twin sons. He is the stronger and more grounded of the two, and as a child defends the weaker NÃcolas from bullies. As an adult he becomes a doctor and champion of the underprivileged, whom he serves in his clinic. Jaime is in love with Amanda, but does not let his feelings overcome him. When he is not working, he can be found reading in his "tunnel of books." Jaime performs an abortion on Amanda and later saves her from a narcotics addiction. He has a special relationship with his niece, Alba, whom he makes sure is brought up with an unashamed understanding of the human body and access to all the books she can handle. Jaime is tortured and shot, his body then dynamited during the Terror when he refuses to betray the memory of his friend, the Socialist President.
Daughter of Blanca and Pedro Tercero García. Her name means "dawn." She narrates the novel, having pieced her family's story together from her grandfather's memories and her grandmother's notebooks. Alba is raised with Clara's spiritualism, Jaime's straightforwardness, Nícolas's mind-over-matter training, and Esteban Trueba's rare doting. Miguel is the love of her life, and wins her over to the leftist political perspective. Alba is molested throughout her life by Esteban García, because she is the target of all his ill feelings toward Esteban Trueba. He kidnaps, rapes, and tortures her almost to death during the Terror. She survives with the encouragement of Clara's spirit through the act of writing. At the novel's end, Alba stands on the edge of a new era for the Trueba family, pregnant with a daughter whom she already loves with the fervor traditional to her family's women.
Also known as "Rosa the Beautiful," she is Clara's older sister and Esteban Trueba's original love and fiancé. She is born with a mermaid-like beauty, with green hair and luminescent eyes and skin. She dies in place of her father, Severo del Valle, from poisoned brandy left by his political adversaries. Years after her death, Esteban Trueba illegally exhumes her corpse and buries it alongside Clara's.
Clara's eccentric uncle. He resembles a pirate and instructs Clara in the ways of the supernatural. He is best remembered for his attempt to fly a balloon across the mountains. Uncle Marcos's collection of "magic books" fascinates generations of Trueba women.
The trusted doctor of the del Valle and Trueba families. He oversees, among other things, Clara's long silence as a child, Rosa's autopsy, and all of the family's births.
Clara's gigantic dog, whom she rescues as a puppy from among Uncle Marcos's belongings. He is infamous in the del Valle household, where he eats or knocks over everything in sight and endures Nana's constant attempts to poison him. He dies from being stabbed in the back with a butcher knife at Clara and Esteban's engagement party. Esteban Trueba has his corpse made into a rug in a misfired attempt to please Clara, and he ends up in the basement for future generations to find.
The Catholic priest at the church where the del Valle family reluctantly attends services. When young Clara speaks up rudely on Holy Thursday, he pronounces her possessed by the devil.
A prostitute with whom Esteban Trueba has trysts throughout his life. She works first at the Red Lantern and, after borrowing fifty pesos from Esteban to start a new life, transforms the Christopher Columbus brothel into a burgeoning business. At the end of the novel, she is a wildly successful and influential businesswoman. During the Terror, she uses her connections to repay Esteban by finding Alba.
The caretaker of the del Valle and Trueba children. She dotes on Clara as though she is a child, even when she is an adult and a mother. She and Férula have an unspoken competition for Clara's attention. She dies alone during the earthquake, and barely anyone attends her funeral.
Old Pedro García
The eldest García, father to Pedro Segundo García. He is known for his tribal wisdom, which he uses to rid Tres Marias of its terrible ant infestation and to cure Esteban Trueba of seemingly irreparable injuries after the earthquake. Esteban Trueba develops a reverence for Old Pedro García and makes sure that his funeral is lavish.
Pedro Segundo García
Foreman of Tres Marias until he leaves along with Clara and Blanca. He is the son of Old Pedro García and father to Pedro Tercero García. He has a close relationship with Esteban Trueba, although he despises him.
Pedro Tercero García
Son of Pedro Segundo García. He and Alba love each other from their first meeting as toddlers, and eventually become lovers. As a young boy, he already has a thirst for defying authority and fighting for justice. He hands out revolutionary pamphlets to the peasants even if it means his patrÃ³n will beat him. Esteban Trueba tries to kill him for taking Blanca's virginity, but succeeds only in cutting off several of his fingers. He is Alba's father, but sees her only occasionally and under the pretense that he is a close friend. Pedro Tercero becomes a famous folk singer who preaches revolution, and then a government official. He and Esteban Trueba are reconciled after they must save one another on different occasions. He and Blanca eventually escape to Canada with the Senator's help.
Niece to Pedro Segundo García. Esteban Trueba rapes her as a young girl, after which she gives birth to his illegitimate son. Eventually her grandson, Esteban García, avenges her rape by raping Alba.
Illegitimate grandson of Esteban Trueba. When he is a young boy, he betrays Pedro Tercero García and Esteban Trueba denies him the reward for doing so. Esteban Trueba finally repays him by lending him money and permission to become a police officer. After this, he becomes a colonel and is instrumental in the political coup and Terror. Esteban García is cruel by nature and is comfortable with violence from a young age, as when he picks up Pedro Tercero's severed fingers with fascination. He begins molesting Alba whenever he can as a young man, and eventually rapes and tortures her almost to death during the Terror.
Nícolas's skinny, gypsy-like girlfriend. Jaime is in love with her. He performs an abortion on her after Nícolas begs him, and she and Miguel move into "the big house on the corner" for a time. She is Miguel's only caretaker and loves him fiercely. Jaime saves her again later in life from a narcotics addiction, after which she becomes enamored of him. However, by that point he is uninterested and she resorts to being around him by volunteering as a nurse in his clinic. She dies during the Terror when she refuses to betray Miguel.
Amanda's younger brother, whom she raises single-handedly. As a university student, he leads the encampment and becomes the love of Alba's life. He becomes a fugitive during the terror and though he is an enemy to Esteban Trueba, the two men come together to rescue Alba.
The Mora Sisters
Three sisters who are some of Clara's closest friends. They are drawn to "the big house on the corner" because they can sense that Clara is one of their kind, who can communicate with the spiritual world. Luisa Mora warns Alba that evil will befall her before she is kidnapped during the Terror.
Jean de Satigny
A French count whom Esteban Trueba originally befriends as a business partner for a chinchilla farm. He is the one who tells Esteban about Blanca's affair. Jean tries to woo Blanca on his own and Esteban eventually forces him to marry her to cover up her illegitimate pregnancy. Jean de Satigny is passionate about literature, ostentatious luxuries, and his kinky photography using his Indian servants. Blanca leaves him after discovering this last passion, and he is not seen again until Alba must identify his body in the morgue.
Professor Sebastian Gomez
A university professor who allies himself with the students during the encampment.
A fellow student with Alba at the university. She mistrusts Alba during the encampment, but becomes her friend and ally at the concentration camp during the Terror.
Father Jose Dulce Maria
A priest from Tres Marias who nurses Pedro Tercero García back to health after his fingers are severed and renews his revolutionary spirit.
The House of the Spirits Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The House of the Spirits is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.