The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits Glossary


One with the ability to perceive things imperceptible to the normal human senses. Clairvoyancy is often referred to as a "sixth sense." As her name suggests, Clara is a clairoyant.


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines Communism as: "a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people."


The tendency to maintain the existing order or tradition rather than accept radical changes. In terms of politics, Esteban Trueba is a conservative.


A representation of the Nativity scene, traditionally with figurines. Blanca's unusual pottery crèches are a successful commodity.


In Spanish, a large plantation or estate. Tres Marias is Esteban Trueba's hacienda, of which he is patrón.

Holy Thursday

The Thursday before Easter, which commemmorates the Last Supper. The novel begins on Holy Thursday when we find the del Valle family in church.


A period of forty weekdays that spans from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It is a time of fasting during which Christians express remorse for their sins in preparation for Easter.


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines Marxism as: "The political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in which the concept of class struggle plays a central role in understanding society's allegedly inevitable development from bourgeois oppression under capitalism to a socialist and ultimately classless society." Esteban Trueba uses the term "Marxism" to refer to Communism, Socialism, and any other doctrine that opposes his own conservative views.


An antiquated term for a mentally disabled individual. Blanca starts a weekly pottery workshop for "mongoloids" as an act of charity.


The Spanish word for the master of a hacienda. Esteban Trueba is the patrón of Tres Marias.


The American Heritage Dictionary defines Socialism as: "any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy."


One involved in promoting a woman's right to vote.