Semi-Autobiographical Narative

Martha Hobson

Patrick Duffey

CI: 200 Years of Solitude

28 November 2016

Semi-Autobiographical Narrative

I can remember this day like it was yesterday. Growing up in New York City I never really experienced the Christmases you see in the seasonal movies, but my experience was unique and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. After Thanksgiving, because one cannot even begin to think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over my family and would take my best friend and me Upstate to pick out a tree from Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers, New York. It was an annual tradition I am sad to say no longer exists. But enough of that sad stuff, I am her to tell you about a magnificent day many years ago.

Bright and early one Saturday morning my dad loaded us in the big green suburban I still drive today, and drove us what seemed like many hours to a ten-year-old, but was only about a thirty-minute drive. I can remember the city melting away into the beautiful trees coated in white snow, and when you rolled down your window you weren’t accosted with the stench of the city, but enveloped in the warm aroma of fallen leaves and the brisk cold. The drive was always magnificent because I was allowed to control the auxiliary cord and that meant either the Elf soundtrack was playing or I was blasting Hillary Duff’s Christmas Album. While the drive was always amazing, it didn’t even come close to what the day had in store.

I can remember becoming extremely impatient nearing the superstore because there were huge signs starting at about 3 miles out. I could not wait to run around the huge supermarket unattended with my best friend.

The time had come and our car was parked. We stepped out into the brisk morning and made our way to what seemed to be heaven. There were not many big supermarkets in the city, so to Sophia and me being native New Yorkers, this was a big treat. We walked into the building as a family unit, but the moment Sophia and my eyes caught sight of all the food and fun we bolted with empty promises of us staying together. I mean, how can you expect two ten-year-olds to stay put when brought into a huge building full of free samples, candy, talking bananas (we’ll get to that in a bit), and oh so many people? The answer is, you simply cannot. By simply walking in and feeling the warm air on my reddened, chapped face was enough to make a little girl happy. The first thing I saw when I walked in was an insane vegetable display, which would be a turnoff for many children, but this was such a special day that I could not possibly turn my nose up to just anything! As Sophia and I continued our adventure through the store we came upon the fruit section, and in the fruit section was a giant singing banana. Sophia and I would spend what seemed like hours pressing the button for her to sing the “Chiquita Banana” song. Ten-year-olds are easily amused. Next, we would wonder into the meat and dairy section where if you looked just at the meat packing area, you could see a family of animatronic cows singing and playing banjos, washing boards, and other instruments New Yorkers believed to be country and hick. After we had our cow band fix, we would venture off into the candy section where we would beg and beg my parents to buy us something, but alas, we never got any candy. The one treat I remember getting from Stew Leonard’s was their delicious chocolate milk which I had to finish inside because bring an ice-cold beverage outside was torture on your poor hands.

Once my mother was content with her purchases we would take the groceries out to the car and head back to the store to choose our Christmas tree. Stew Leonard’s had an amazing display of freshly cut trees just outside of their store, and that is where we purchased our tree for many years, and each of those years we brought Sophia along. I can remember being a small person amid hundreds of beautiful trees and just being taken aback by the different shapes, colors, and sizes. Because I was only ten and had the attention span of a squirrel, Sophia and I would run off and run throughout the trees as if we were in a forest. Sitting in the freezing cold with my best friend is one of my fondest memories because we were so small compared to the trees we were hiding behind.

Once my parents chose a few trees for me to have the final say (I would always choose the largest one to my mother’s dismay), we would drive through the line of cars for the workers to tie our tree to the roof of our car. Even though we were through with shopping and choosing our tree, the day was not over quite yet. The time would be about eleven to twelve, and it was time for us to eat! Every year on our way back home, we would drive through Little Italy and stop at a quaint Italian restaurant to have an authentic meal. We would order heaping plates of pasta and seafood, Sophia and I would enjoy some Coca-Cola while my parents sipped on a few glasses of Limoncello. Once we finished our meal, it was back to the green suburban with the huge tree. Of course, I would play Hillary Duff’s “Tell Me a Story” featuring Li’l Romeo, and we would drive with full bellies and happy hearts home to our loud city. Christmastime is not always the easiest holiday for my family and me, but I am grateful to have such pleasant and happy memories to ponder when I am having a less than happy day. The holidays are times for cheer and laughter, and I have many memories of cheer and laughter with the ones I love.


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Thematic Essay

Martha Hobson

Patrick Duffey

CI: 200 Years of Solitude

28 November 2016

Thematic Essay

In many novels there is a strong female character, but rarely do you find a novel where every woman in the story is strong and independent. You may rarely find it, but it is found in the novel The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. The House of the Spirits begins with the del Valle family, and then with a marriage, carries on with the Trueba lineage. Each female character is strong in her own way, but this analysis will cover Nívea del Valle, Clara Trueba, and Alba De Satigny. Throughout the novel each woman, though in very different ways, is exceptionally strong and independent.

Nívea del Valle is the one of the first women to be introduced in the novel and the wife of Severo del Valle. Nivea del Valle is a strong female character in the novel because she is very progressive for her time. When her daughter Clara was ten years old she decided to stop speaking because of a traumatic experience. Instead of overreact, she would take Clara with her to all of her woman’s rights meetings to expose her to the world. She would also tell her story after story and just let her daughter absorb the information without speaking.

Clara would smile without saying a word and Nivea would go on talking because she had grown used to her daughter’s silence. In addition, she nourished the hope that if she kept putting ideas into Clara’s head, sooner or later she would ask a question and regain her speech (Allende, 89).

This just comes to show the quiet and dignified way Nivea shows her independence. By using her love and understanding to help her daughter, she shows her strength, courage, and faith in a situation that many would not know how to handle.

Another woman who showed her independence, though in a very strange way, is Clara Trueba. Clara is a very interesting woman being she is clairvoyant and can move objects with her mind. She is not the strong independent woman you would expect because throughout the novel she is very docile and a bit of a pushover for certain things when it came to her nanny ‘Nana.’ Throughout her entire life she has had someone look after her, and in many cases, her entire family would spoil and do anything for Clara. But one reason I would say she is independent in her own way are the years from age ten to nineteen. When Clara was ten she saw her beloved doctor perform an autopsy on her sisters dead body. Not only did she see the autopsy, but when the doctor was finished, he told his apprentice to clean and dress Rosa. Through the eyes of a ten year old, the reader sees this, “She stayed until the young man she had never seen before kissed Rosa on the lips, the neck, the breasts, and between the legs; until he wiped her with a sponge, dressed her in her embroidered nightgown, and, panting, rearranged her hair” (Allende 44). This would be a traumatic scene for anyone to witness, let alone a ten-year-old girl. After that moment, she stopped talking until she was nineteen. But she did not just stop talking, she journaled and communicated by using a chalkboard. This shows the strength of a young girl who keeps going; because in that situation, the strongest thing you can do is to keep living and interacting the best way you can.

The next and final strong independent woman being covered in this thematic analysis is Alba De Satigny. Alba could be considered one of the most important characters in the novel, and it is no mystery why. During the military coups, Alba is captured. She is brutally tortured mentally, physically, and sexually Esteban Garcia. She is so brutally tortured by Esteban that she is sent to solitary confinement. While in confinement, Alba reaches her lowest point and tries to commit suicide. Before the deed is done, Clara comes to her and tells her she needs her to fight, and that she does. Alba makes a huge turnaround, and fights for her life. This shows her strength and independence, because even at her lowest, she finds the strength to fight and carry on through her horrible conditions.

Each woman in this novel is strong in her own way, but these three woman stand out because of their utter devotion to their passions and family. Without their strength, they would just be doormats, and that would not make a good novel or send a good message to all the little girls who grow up in a society who makes them think that they are less than. It is very important we have authors like Isabel Allende to show the little girls all over the world that it is okay to have a voice, use it, and be loud!

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Research Paper

Martha Hobson

Patrick Duffey

CI: 200 Years of Solitude

28 November 2016

Research Paper

Feminism is a movement that has been happening for many years and will continue to happen for many years until the ideal outcome of equality between all races and genders. The topic being covered in this paper is feminism in Latin America. Although many Latin American women would not consider themselves to be feminists, their actions say otherwise. What Allende does as a female Latin American author is portraying herself and women as strong and independent beings. Allende also used strong women in her life, like her grandmother, to portray in her novels like La Casa de Los Espiritus. Finally, we will see the political influence feminism has on its people, and how feminism is needed in times of trial. Feminism in Latin America has been prominent in both gender communities for a very long time, even if many individuals wouldn’t necessarily classify themselves as feminists.

Isabel Allende, in my opinion, is revolutionary. What she does it portray every female character in her novels, specifically La Casa de Los Espiritus, as strong and independent. This does not just give a positive portrayal to a gender that is generally oppressed, but also strengthens feminism by using beautiful art. It is like creating a television show that is not only entertaining but also educational. In “Allende and Valenzuela: Dissecting the Patriarchy” Catherine Perricone beautifully states,

What should be said of Allende and Valenzuela at the outset is that through their characterization of the masculine Other they are learning to take control. In this sense, they are still paradoxically “writing themselves” as intelligent human beings: making statements, declaring the way things have been, and asking for a re-evaluation of and, where necessary, a change in the status quo (81).

What I believe she is so beautifully saying is that Allende creates a female character to fight what is, and trying to create what life should be. Not only does she create strong female characters, but she also creates not-so-great male characters as kind of a foil to her intelligent women. She is not saying that all men are bad, but she is saying that there are many problems with society, and this is what we need to do to fix that. Another terrific thing Allende has done is, “utilized spatial symbolism to emphasize and parallel the actions of female characters as they sought to overcome the tyranny of patriarchy” (García-Johnson, 185). This comes to show the power of words and how Allende used those words to create a voice for the voiceless.

In La Casa de Los Espiritus, there are many strong female characters who Allende created herself, but she mirrored a very important character after one of the most influential people in her life. “Her grandmother, Isabel Barros Moreira–the model for Clara in this novel–was an extraordinary woman who inhibited space between dreams and reality” (Levine, 2). This comes to show the positive influence she had as a young girl, and how she used her strong female role models to help her female readers, young and old, understand the importance of being a woman with a voice and a good head on her shoulders. Allende’s writing is inspirational, not just as a young woman, but as a human being with feelings and knowledge of those who are not as fortunate as myself as to have the opportunities I have been given.

And finally, feminism is not just a movement that effects women, but a movement with great political influence and a loud voice. For many, many years, Latin American countries have struggled with different leaders whose ideals and ways of the ruling may not have been the most popular, humane, or well accepted. Over the course of many years leaders have come and gone, and with them, their ways of ruling, such as democracy, communism, and socialism. With each leader comes a new way of ruling, but what does not change is the need for feminism and equality. In “Feminisms in Latin America: From Bogotá to San Bernando” by Nancy Saporta Sternbach, Marysa Navarro-Aranguren, Patricia Chuchryk and Sonia E. Alvarez, they state,

Latin American nations are plagued by chronic and political crisis. In all countries, feminist groups must make heroic efforts to stay afloat organizationally amid staggering national debts, painful austerity plans, and dramatic political changes (395).

In times like these, it is very easy for the feminism movement to be brushed under the rug by many a political leader, but it is times like these when feminism is needed the most. Many things that feminism are just the whining’s of privileged white women who keep wanting “more.” But feminism is more than that. Feminism is the need for equality between genders no matter what race you are. The magnificent thing Allende does with her novels is how she portrays women in a strong way, but also realistic to the times she is writing because of her upbringing.

Feminism in Latin American, while not always prominent, is and will always be there. While we may not always see it because there are not women running about burning their bras or denouncing their relationships with men, we have women like Isabel Allende who use the power of words and art to get the message across to their audience. Feminism is not and should not be scary for those who do not understand the concept but should be taught and celebrated by those who do. One day everyone will be equal, and that day will be grand!


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Feminism in all its Glory


Feminism in Latin America has been prominent in both gender communities for a very long time, even if many individuals wouldn’t necessarily classify themselves as feminists.



There is no denying feminism has been prominent in Latin America for a long time, but there are many who would argue that they were not feminists, but individuals who appreciated their individuality. I would argue that this statement could be true, but the negative connotation those individuals perceive feminism to be, should not be the way we should perceive this movement. Isabel Allende uses her raw talent to show the readers what women have endured and experienced for centuries. If that is not feminism at its finest, I don’t know what is. Feminism is a beautiful movement in which women and men alike can educate and express equality. Latin American literature is one of my favorite genres and regions of literature to read because of its pure honesty and beautiful metaphors. Feminism in Latin American literature should be celebrated by people of all cultures and ethnicity.



García-Johnson, Ronie-Richele. “The Struggle for Space: Feminism and Freedom in ‘The House of the Spirits.’” Revista Hispánica Moderna, vol. 47, no. 1, 1994, pp. 184–193.

Levine, Linda Gould. “Weaving Life into Fiction.” Latin American Literary Review, vol. 30, no. 60, 2002, pp. 1–25.

Perricone, Catherine R. “Allende and Valenzuela: Dissecting the Patriarchy.” South Atlantic Review, vol. 67, no. 4, 2002, pp. 80–105.

Sternbach, Nancy Saporta et al. “Feminisms in Latin America: From Bogotá to San Bernardo.” Signs, vol. 17, no. 2, 1992, pp. 393–434.









You may be wondering why the title of this blogpost is in Italian, and I am here to tell you why. Over the past few days, my CI class has been watching a movie called “Il Postino” or “The Postman.” It is about a man named Mario who becomes the postman for communist poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda was exiled from his home country Chile, so he had to reside in a small village in Italy. Everyday Mario would bring Neruda his mail, and everyday Neruda would brush Mario off with a quick “thank you” and a tip. Mario was determined to get to know Neruda and understand his poetry for he was very interested in understanding why Neruda had so much power over the written text. In the beginning Mario is “the man who came to dinner: He arrives at Neruda’s gate, and in a sense never seems to leave” (Roger Ebert). When Pablo finally befriends Mario, he teaches him about Poetry, specifically metáfori. Mario meets this beautiful young woman named Beatrice Russo and wants to win her over with his poetry and metaphors. He begins to write her letters and poems (some his and some were Neruda’s). One metaphor he used that was significant to me, was when he described her smile as “a butterfly spreading it’s wings.” I found this to be profoundly beautiful because butterflies are so delicate yet so prominent, that her smile must have been the most beautiful thing in the world. In a Reel Views review, James Berardinelli makes an astute observation. He states, “Mario has the heart of a poet, but little talent with words” (Reel Views). Although he may have little talent with words in the beginning, he makes up for it with this quote, “the whole world is a metaphor for something” (Il Postino). Although Mario may seem like a simple man, he has profound thoughts and a kind heart. The affect Neruda had on Mario in the movie helped him grow from a fisherman’s son to a poet.

Since I’m already on the topic of Pablo Neruda, how about I talk about some of his metaphors? Neruda is one of the most talented poets I have ever had the privilege to read. Although his poems may seem simple to the naked eye, the deeper meanings in each line amazes me. In his poem “Walking Around,” Neruda voices how sad he is with his life.

“I don’t want so much misery.
I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief” (Walking Around).

To my limited understanding of poetry, this means to me that he does not want to end up with the same fate as every man.

In Neruda’s poem “I Like For You To Be Still,” he is speaking to a person about what he loves about them.

“You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid” (I Like For You To Be Still).

Neruda uses the stars to describe the person he is speaking to. Beautiful yet distant.

In the novel I read for my CI, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez uses metaphors to enhance the readers experience. In the beginning of the novel, José Arcadio Buendía is ahead of his time with the ideas he has. A Metaphor that really stood out to me in the novel was the dream José Arcadio Buendía had about the houses with walls of mirrors. I thought this could mean that the mirrors reflected who you were, and also didn’t let you escape that fact. Another Metaphor that stood out to me was when José Arcadio (José Arcadio Buendía’s son) was about to have sex with a gypsy girl. “She was a languid little frog, with incipient breasts and legs so thin they did not even match the size of José Arcadio’s arms, but she had a decision and a warmth that compensated for her fragility” (García Marquez 33). My first reaction to this sentence was “gross!” But then I stepped back and read it again. The way García Marquez describes the girl is a bit disturbing, but the detail he puts into it is magnificent.

The way each author uses metaphors to strengthen the different stories fascinates me and never ceases to make me want to read more. I had never read anything by Pablo Neruda before this class, and I will definitely continue reading his work.

On the Verge? Nope. Already broken.

Excuse my title, it’s just there to get the readers attention, so if you’re reading this, it has. For centuries now women have been called crazy, hysteric, loony, and many other demeaning words to suppress their genius. A few examples of this statement can be found in Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, and Gary Nunn’s article “The Feminization of Madness is Crazy.” Each individual person dives headfirst into the confusing, degrading, and Iutterly mad world of misogyny.

In Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Pepa has just been dumped on her answering machine by her long-time boyfriend. “Of all the misfortunes that can befall a woman — bad haircuts, broken fingernails — there is nothing worse than getting your aorta stomped by a man” (Kempley, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). Even though there are worse things in a woman’s life than breaking a nail. Pepa becomes “crazy” with sadness, and tries to commit suicide, but failing because her bed catches on fire. Although her initial reaction seems to be a bit extreme, she has every right to be upset! She wanted an explanation for why he decided it was over, but of course he wouldn’t return any of her calls. This just adds to more of the “craziness” we women have to deal with. What Almodóvar did that I really liked, was he used an old woman news anchor. In a New York Times article by Vincent Canby he states, “It’s also a place where a television anchor is a sweet old grandmother instead of a barely literate sex symbol” (Canby, Review/Film Festival Concentric Eccentricities in Almodóvar’s Tale).  If I had a dollar for every sex symbol I’ve seen read the news, I would be Bill Gates.

In The House of the Spirits every women is her own, and her own is freaking awesome. The only problem with the women in Allende’s novel, are the men they have to deal with. Yes, that is extreme, but sometimes you need the extreme to get your opinion or idea heard.

In “The Feminization of Madness is Crazy,” Gary Nunn could not have written anything more genius than he did in this article. Women have gotten the short end of the stick for many many years. We were seen, and still are, as the weaker, more hysteric sex. See what I did there? “Hysterical. It’s a word with a very female-baiting history, coming from the Latin hystericus (“of the womb”). This was a condition thought to be exclusive to women – sending them uncontrollably and neurotically insane owing to a dysfunction of the uterus (the removal of which is still called a hysterectomy)” (Nunn, “The Feminization of Madness is Crazy). Just that word can show you how we as women have been categorized as an unpredictable and some would say, less than, gender.

Although I have been ranting about feministic issues, I would like to take the time to thank all of these authors with their innovative ideas that have been expressed on the printed page and the flickering screen. If everyone does at least half of what Almodóvar, Allende, and Nunn do, then our world would be all but broken!

Works Cited
Canby, Vincent. “Review/Film Festival; Concentric Eccentricities in Almodovar Tale.” The New York Times, 23 Sept. 1988. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Kempley, Rita. “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Dec. 1988. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Nunn, Gary. “The Feminisation of Madness Is Crazy | Mind Your Language.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Clara and Raimunda

In Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Pedro Almodovar’s Volver there are many similar characters and characteristics throughout both stories. The women in The House of the Spirits use their minds to cope with the fact the men in their lives are less than ideal. In Volver, Raimunda works a tedious job with unfortunate hours just to keep her family afloat. Her husband is a deadbeat father who sits on the couch, drinks beer, and continuously gets laid off from his jobs, or as Roger Ebert states, “Raimunda’s beer-swilling, layabout husband.” Women throughout each story have to endure many difficulties brought onto them by men, and they each use their talents to overcome those difficulties.

Clara de Valle, from The House of the Spirits, witnesses her deceased sister being sexually violated by the medical assistant in charge of cleaning her dead body for the funeral. Clara is only ten years old at the time, and decided the best response to this would be to cease speaking. Although this may seem drastic, she uses this time to strengthen her clairvoyance.

While on the topic of sexual violation, Raimunda’s husband attempted to have sex with Paola her daughter. His attempt ended with a knife in his stomach, and Raimunda finds him dead on her kitchen floor. She has to protect her daughter, while also protecting herself, which puts her in a very difficult position. Being the strong independent woman that she is, she handles the situation with a bit of grace, and a whole lot of gusto! A.O. Scott from the New York Times talks about how Raimunda is a “hard-working women pulled in every direction.”

Clara and Raimunda both have to deal with very similar yet different situations, and both use their intellect to solve their problems in their lives.

Works Cited

Scott, A. O. “The Darkest of Troubles in the Brightest of Colors.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Nov. 2006. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.

Ebert, Roger. “Volver Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., 21 Nov. 2006. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.




The House of the Spirits

In Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits you see the characters grow and develop into people you hadn’t even noticed before.Allende uses the power of a great story to bring awareness to her readers. For example, in the beginning of the novel, Esteban, is just an idiot boy in love with an oblivious girl. He is utterly devoted to her, and will stop at nothing until she is his. That is one of the red flags. Although he is using possessive language in a loving way, he is using it about another person. He starts by paying the gardner and the maid for information on Rosa the Beautiful. When one starts paying others for information on a person, is becomes less of a cute little crush, and more of a absurd obsession. His possessive behavior becomes more and more apparent as the book progresses. After his weird obsession somehow gets him the girl, he makes a promise to himself that he will never be poor again, and he leaves to become a miner.

Even when he and Rosa are engaged to be married, he ceases to talk about her as if she were his right. She isn’t the only woman he believes he has the right to. Esteban has this twisted thought that being a man, he is greater and entitled to more. He even thinks this about the natives of his hacienda.

As he gets older, he becomes angrier and more hostile. His hostility becomes violent and frustrated. His frustration leads him to use women as objects, and those “objects” start having his bastard children. He becomes angry at the women who claim he is the father, and he accuses them of being promiscuous. This just comes to show how Isabel Allende perceives the men because of how she writes her male characters in the book. The House of the Spirits deals with many issues pertaining to equal rights.

Pan’s Labyrinth

On Sunday night my CI class had dinner and watched a movie. The movie we watched was Pan’s Labyrinth. Pan’s Labyrinth was written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, a Mexican screenwriter and director. The movie was set in 1944 Fascist Spain and told in the perspective of an eleven year old girl named Ofelia. Ofelia moved to a mill with her mother, Carmen, who was sick with child. Ofelia’s father had passed away a year before, and Carmen married Captain Vidal, a vicious, merciless man. On their way to the mill, Ofelia encounters a stick insect she believes to be a fairy, and that turns out to be true. The fairy leads her to a Labyrinth where she meets an old Faun. The Faun explains that she is mortal, but has his long lost Princesses soul. The Faun gives her a magical book that shows her three tasks she must complete before the full moon to go back to his realm. She completes the tasks with a few hiccups (some more dangerous than others), but completes them nonetheless. I believe she sees and believes these magical anomalies to get her through the difficulties of her time and the passing of her mother during the birth of her brother. She get’s shot by Captain Vidal in the end, but in her mind she is being welcomed by her father and mother to the realm she was working towards. Even if the fairytales weren’t real, she died happily and peacefully.