In this passage from The House of the Spirits, author Isabel Allende uses dawn as an allegory for Blanca’s sexual awakening. Blanca begins to experience nature on a new level of depth, symbolizing her graduation into womanhood. The passage illustrates the sexual act metaphorically in the rising of the sun. With her walk to the river, Blanca begins a journey towards sex and, eventually, her daughter.
An atmosphere of hope and imminent change is established by Allende’s description of the setting. The reader feels that the impossible is suddenly probably and that Blanca is about to undergo positive changes. The earth represents Blanca both physically and emotionally. The fields are personified as “shaking off their sleep,” (l. 1) illustrating the potential for an awakening of sorts in Blanca, who has also just woken up. The type of awakening Blanca will undergo is specified in the lines to come. The imagery of “rays of light… cutting the peaks of the cordillera like thrusts of a saber,” (l. 1-2) is a metaphor for Blanca’s sexual awakening. Blanca is represented by the “warming earth” (l. 2) while Pedro Tercero is the “thrust saber” that warms her. The diction of warming and “enchanted dream” (l. 4) to describe the earth, and by extension Blanca, informs the reader that sex will be a positive experience.Order now
The landscape is described differently later in the passage. Blanca’s “clothing felt slightly damp,” (l. 12) “leaves… produc a nice crunching sound” (l.6) and “she inhaled the perfume of the drenched earth.” (l. 12-13) This tactile, auditory, and sensory illustration contrasts with the juxtaposed, uniformly visual imagery used above. This change in description represents Blanca’s deepening understanding of herself, symbolized by the earth. She begins to experience life differently. Instead of merely seeing the “soaked earth” (l. 11), “fallen leaves” (l. 6), and “evaporating dew” (l. 3), she feels, hears, and smells them. This new awareness of the earth symbolizes a new appreciation for herself.
Allende utilizes color symbolism to emphasize Blanca’s growth. As she walks to the river, Blanca notices “white foam,” (l. 3) evaporating from the earth. Blanca’s name, translated into English, means white. The vapor is warmed by the sun and moves towards the light, just as Blanca gravitates towards Pedro Tercero. As she walks, Blanca leaves the “golden wheatfields and far-off purple mountains” (l. 8) behind her. Gold and purple are often used to represent nobility and wealth. This foreshadows Blanca’s betrayal of her families’ dignified title by having and affair with a commoner and the poverty that endures because of it. However, the inevitability of this fate is also foreshadowed. Blanca feels that the entire scene is “part of some ancient memory… in some previous life.” (l. 9-11) This illustrates that Blanca and Pedro Tercero was destined to consummate their love and, by extension, that Alba was destined to be born. A motif in The House of the Spirits is fate. The reason Clara marries Esteban Trueba is that she knows it to be her destiny. This symbolism furthers the point that a higher power (or powers) had mapped out the lives of the Trueba family.
This passage foreshadows not only the inevitability of Blanca’s life, but the birth of Alba. Alba’s name, translated into English, means dawn. The entire passage takes place during the rising of the sun. The earth represents Blanca and the sun represents Pedro Tercero, so it stands to reason that, in the union of the two, dawn would be produced. Due to the fact that her parents are destined to be intimate lovers, Alba is going to be born and the Trueba family will experience its own dawn. The wheels are set in motion by Blanca, who is “awakened” (l. 13) and experiences “an unknown pleasure” (l. 14) that morning.
Allende foreshadows that Blanca is about to embark on a journey that will change her and the Trueba family. This passage is an allegory for Blanca’s imminent sex life and Alba’s birth.