Isabel Allende uses Clara Trueba's character in The House of the Spirits to create a structural split, or a division in the plot. More specifically, Clara's death in the novel is the key event that changes the mood, diction, and general atmosphere in the setting of the novel. From the start, Clara's clairvoyance is shown to us through Allende's skilled use of magic realism. Clara, together with the magic, create a sense of control and protection for the family. It will be argued that the lives of the different family members, the politics of the revolutionary nation, and even the spirits of the house were violently transformed from the magic realism and dreamlike tone before Clara's death to a display of stark realism of terror and loss of control after her death.
These shifting factors in the novel can be conveyed to the reader by Allende's diction and tone:.
Alba knew that her grandmother was the soul of the big house on the corner everybody else learned it later, when Clara died and the house lost its flowers, its nomadic friends, and its playful spirits and entered into an era of decline (p283).
The gradual shift of diction and tone occurs at Clara's death. Although shown almost as an insignificant event in the novel, it carries great weight when considering the relationships between the family members, the politics of the country, and the impact it made on the resolution, or the dénouement of the story. This second phase' of the novel takes a step toward decline and is contrasted with the first phase' that contains dreamlike and translucent images.
In contrast, before Clara's death, the novel begins with a surreal step toward life, politics, and the relationships of the family. Clara is the soul' of the novel and represents the magic, humor, and innocence of Chilean society. Clara is seen as an angel-like figure, especially through the eyes of Esteban.
This angelic symbol represents the control of their family life.