Esteban’s work on his hacienda confirms for him his political views. As the local patrón, Esteban opposes rights and freedoms for his tenants. Tenants caught passing out political tracts or discussing rights for the tenants are punished and banished from the hacienda. While Esteban takes pride in providing his tenants with the only brick houses on any hacienda in the area, he also feels justified in raping the women at will and taking no responsibility for the many children who result. Esteban’s wealth and political conviction eventually lead him to become a senator.
Ironically, it is at Tres Marías that Esteban’s daughter Blanca falls in love with one of the tenants, her childhood friend Pedro Tercero García. Pedro Tercero becomes a popular singer and political figure who helps the socialist president win his election and who fights against the military coup. Alba, Blanca and Pedro Tercero’s daughter, likewise falls in love with a left-wing activist. Esteban’s love for Alba encourages him to soften his political views after the military coup.
Big house on the corner. Home that Esteban Trueba builds in the capital city in preparation for his marriage to Clara. He erects the house in the city’s finest neighborhood, sparing no expense on either construction or furnishings. This house becomes a meeting place for Clara’s spiritualist and clairvoyant friends and thus becomes the “house of the spirits” of the novel’s title. The many spirits who visit Clara there suggest adding rooms or knocking down walls to look for treasure. While the front of the house remains unchanged, the back becomes a labyrinth of small rooms because of Clara’s constant remodeling. These rooms prove extremely useful during the nation’s coup. Esteban hides guns for the military in one of them; Alba and Blanca hide political dissidents wanted by the military police.
Capital city. Unnamed capital of the country. As with the novel’s descriptions of the hacienda Tres Marías, its descriptions of the city accentuate its political themes. The earlier generations in the novel–Esteban Trueba, Clara, Esteban’s mother and sister, and Clara’s parents–remain in the aristocratic sections of the city. Later in the novel, younger generations visit the lower-class sections of the city.
Esteban and Clara’s son Nicolás seeks out his girlfriend Amanda in the capital after not seeing her for several weeks. He finds her in her boardinghouse, pregnant and miserable. Nicolás is shocked by her poverty. Looking around he realizes that until that moment he has known almost nothing about her. In fact, he has never visited the home of a poor person before and never considered what it would be like to live without money. Nicolás’s twin brother, Jaime, becomes a doctor devoted to helping the poor. He exhausts himself trying to cure the sick without adequate money, food, or medicine, spending most of his time in the poorest sections of the city. The powerful contrasts between the city’s wealthy neighborhoods and its slums show why many of the younger Truebas support political reform.