The House of the Spirits is an outstanding story of the Trueba Family of three generations and it portrays their loves, ambitions and the relationships and how they inevitably participate in the contextual history of their times. The history is their fate and it overwhelms them. In the novel, The Unbearable lightness of being we see the intertwined stories of Tereza and Tomas, Tomas and Sabina, Sabina and Franz, Franz and Marie-Claude–four people, four relationships.
But significantly the focus is on Tomas, who is constantly battling with the love for his wife and his erotic adventures with every other woman he meets, especially his long-time affair with the internationally noted painter, Sabina. Both these novels picture the ordinary lives of ordinary people, placed in the social arena of their period. AS usual there is the disparity between the classes, the poor and the rich and the common and the uneducated.
The main characters in The House of the Spirits are from the two contrasting classes: Landed gentry (the privileged class of the society, not because of what they have achieved but because of their birth right) and the poor peasants who bend their backs and earn living. This is a common aspect in almost all the developing countries. The Trueba families represent the land owning upper class who is the direct descendants of the Spaniards and also born and raised in South America. But the Garcias represent the lower ranks of the society.
Evidently the upper class is indirectly in control of the lower classes. This shows also in the distribution of wealth. Kundera’s novel does not deal with the disparity pf the wealth distribution in s direct way. Kundera’s attitude towards communism is clear in all his works. In this novel, the psychological aspects of the life of his characters show that it is important to be responsible for one’s actions. Life once lived will never return. However, the waitress Sabina is looked down on by others.
But when she becomes an artist, her social status has been automatically raised to the member of the press, though she does not possess any extra qualification to do so. Further more, wealth does count because she feels happy when she was able to sell her products, the figurines. The novelist is careful to note down the settlement proceedings of the court towards his son. “He lived a scant two years with his wife, and they had a son. At the divorce proceedings, the judge awarded the infant to its mother and ordered Tomas to pay a third of his salary for its support.
He also granted him the right to visit the boy every other week. ” (Page8) This is indeed a contrast of the novel, ‘The Houses of the Spirits” because the peasants needed so much to come up in life and they longed to have a society with equal members. But in Kundera’s novel, the upper class surgeon is having an amorous relationship with a woman of low descent. Thereby, we see Kundera, not caring for the distinction of the haves and the have-nots. Tomas, the surgeon tries to impress his son with his wealth.
Apparently, this shows that wealth is not going to solve all the problems of the society. “He lived a scant two years with his wife, and they had a son. At the divorce proceedings, the judge awarded the infant to its mother and ordered Tomas to pay a third of his salary for its support. He also granted him the right to visit the boy every other week. ” (Page 8) Kundera actually derides the use of wealth and giving it too much importance in one’s life. Though the language he employs is a capitalistic language, there is a sort of derision in the novel towards wealth.
That’s why he writes, “But each time Tomas was supposed to see him, the boy’s mother found an excuse to keep him away. He soon realized that bringing them expensive gifts would make things a good deal easier, that he was expected to bribe the mother for the son’s love. He saw a future of quixotic attempts to inculcate his views in the boy, views opposed in every way to the mother’s. ” The Houses of Spirit has made the distinction of the classes as the main theme.
But The Unbearable Lightness of Being has an undercurrent of the rich and the poor running like a gentle breeze blowing through the entire novel. The South Americans of the era belonged to either one of the class system and that has been depicted well in the story of the Houses of Spirits. It is always the lower class yearning to have a better life. On the other hand in the story of the Unbearable lightness of being, the dejection of communism speaks and so the capitalistic world of wealth protection, confidential banking and trusts and foundations are dealt with and discussed.
Both novels show different attitude to the aspect of wealth in a community. For Kundera, the behavior of the characters mean much more than the class they belong to. The class struggle is vividly pictured in the other novel. This variation has occurred due to the country the characters live in and also the age and the context they represent in each of the novel.
1. Isabelle Allende The house of the Spirit 2. Milan Kundera The unbearable lightness of Being