Question

Describe the role of the Catholic Church in House of the Spirits. Did it help or hurt the lives of the characters? Support your opinion with facts.

In your opinion, what has been the most dramatic influence on the culture of Latin America, the Spanish, or the indigenous people? Support your opinion with facts.

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1. Describe the role of the Catholic Church in House of the Spirits. Did it help or hurt the lives of the characters? Support your opinion with facts.

Beyond any doubt, the Catholic church has played a formative role in shaping all Latin American nations ever since the arrival of the Spaniards. The evaluation of this role varies widely depending on one's political stance and social affiliation. According to Keene, “more or less nominal acceptance of Christianity” was a major part of the acculturation of Indians under the influence of the Spanish conquerors (3). Isabel Allende acknowledges the importance of the church throughout her novel The House of the Spirits, but her approach to the church and its impact on the lives of the characters is fairly critical. At the same time, it cannot be defined in simple terms, for the author is mindful of the complex place the church took within the Latin American society.
In fact, the book opens with a lengthy description of a Good Thursday mass where many important characters of the book are introduced. The first instance of the church impacting characters in the book is Father Restrepo pronouncing one of the main characters, Clara the Clairvoyant, as “possessed by the devil.” Fortunately, in the post-independence republican Latin American society this was not a condemnation, unlike during the Spanish Inquisition times, but the “words of Father Restrepo were etched in the family memory with all the gravity of a diagnosis” (14). The author goes on to...

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