Category Archives: 3 Allende

3.7 Paula (Pages 289-330)

By Yosálida C. Rivero-Zaritzky

As Paula’s condition remains the same, family members gather to visit her and support her mother. Ernesto is able to travel for visits. While he is there, he has a dream and, in despair, looks for Isabel during the night to tell her about it. After talking, they perform a farewell ritual, although Isabel is not completely ready for it; a mother never is. She says she has visions and dreams as well, and her health is suffering from all her emotional pain– not only her health, but also her relationship with her husband whose pragmatic minds finds placing Paula in an institution a more reasonable solution than keeping her at home. Nevertheless, he does not articulate such thoughts because it would only serve to separate him from his wife.

Isabel refers then to the time they both met. As she mentioned before, his life was a novel, a fact she suspected at their first encounter, when she ended up spending the night in his house and leaving the next morning for Venezuela. It was an unusual farewell; after what was supposed to be a one night stand, she asked him to commit to a relationship, arguing that she was 44 years old and had no time to play around. Once she arrives in Venezuela and informs her son about it, he laughs and tells her to go back for a week to get Willie out of her system. She does, but she does not come back. She stays in San Francisco until the present.

She went back to Chile with her husband, Willie, for the plebiscite scheduled by Pinochet. Pinochet wanted to create the impression that his regime was democratic. Blinded by power and accustomed to the silence he had imposed on the citizens, he unwittingly set a trap for himself. The campaign against him was called NO. SÍ was for him to stay in power and NO was to call for elections in a year. This campaign had very little exposure, only 15 minutes a day on public television at a time when everybody would be sleeping. This campaign was very creative and in the end won. As result, the following year Chile had the elections that took Pinochet out of the presidency.

Trailer from the movie NO based on the campaign that overthrew Pinochet in 1989.

One morning Allende noticed her daughter’s condition had drastically changed. Her mother and she got together in Paula’s room and started to say goodbye. Other members of the family came by without being warned, just because they felt they needed to be there. With laughs and tears, they reminisced about Paula’s life and stayed with her until she parted.

Of these three books, this one is closest to my heart. First because I am a mother of two little girls, and also because I am an immigrant. As a mother there is no greater fear that seeing a daughter or a son suffer, or worst of all, die. The first time I read Paula, I was single and without children. This time it has been harder to read and my experience with the book has been different.

As an immigrant, the book reminds me of lost relationships, a lack of contact with the land, extended family, traditions and history, and the sentiment that with the years I have become a foreigner both here and in my native country. One lays down new roots, but there is always the question of what could have been.

I am Venezuelan. I have not been in my country for 12 years, and I will end the hiatus this coming week when I travel there. I am not ready for what I will find. For certain, it is not the same country I left or grew up in. I smiled at Allende’s description of Caracas in the 80s because her perception was quite different than mine, and then I inferred that Santiago de Chile was even more mellow. In her own words, it took her a while before she could really understand Venezuelan. I lived there in the period described in the book; I could walk the streets with nothing to fear, and, like Paula, could navigate almost any part of the city without thinking that something might happen to me. That will not be the case now, but I miss family and friends, places and flavors, and I need to return.

As a nation, we Venezuelans are going through a very difficult time politically, and that has given us more political awareness, especially among the youth whose future is now in jeopardy. We are fighting against a new type of dictatorship that calls itself democracy, but reading Paula I look at how Chile got rid of their dictatorship and I am hopeful that we will see better days.


Posted by on July 23, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.6 Paula (Pages 229-289)

By Tiffany Wright

The beginning of this section, Allende starts off with a new life being brought into the world, her granddaughter Andrea.  Allende recounts her son’s birth as it was twenty-five years ago.  The family television room that was once the birthing place for Andrea now becomes what is to be considered the final living quarters for Paula. Allende embarks on another journey that she seems to have realized that she may not come out the way she had hoped in the beginning with Paula.  Allende seeks spiritual healers again as she once did before in Madrid.  There was a hypnotist, a magnetic mattress salesperson, an astrologer, and Apache, and a woman from India.

Then again she interweave the painful present with stories from her past. Even though she walked out on her family for a three-month fling, they welcomed her back. She left Michael after he had lost his mother and father, and was trying to take the children along as well. It did take at least two years for everything to go back to normalcy. Michael worked out of the city and was rarely home. Paula was much like her mother, and Allende tells of it. While Allende was away Paula assumed the responsibility of looking after her brother, just as Allende had to do with her brothers. Later Allende mentions the love affair Paula has before deciding to settle down with her studies. They both share a passion to help the unfortunate. Allende helped refugees make it to embassies that provided asylum, and Paula went around educating and providing help in areas that not police would go after dark.  In this section she has published three books with the help of ghosts or spirits. Though Allende feels alone in the silence of her life she continues to try and make it seem like nothing compared to that of what her daughter will never experience again. Allende recalls the school she helps a friend turn around when she decides the stage of childhood of her life is over. However, they (Allende and the friend’s mother) use luck potion to bring luck to the school. Allende later uses it to bring customers back to Michael’s business.

Isabel Allende’s determination to hold onto her daughter shows how a mother’s love for a child can be hindering.  However, after she gets Paula to California, the results come back that Paula will never be able to function in life on her own any more, Allende decides that there will no longer be any additional medical procedures being performed on Paula. She opts for more spiritual healing services. I think this is still a way to prolong the inevitable. I noticed that Allende coached Michael’s mother to give up and die but then hangs on for dear life to her daughter’s.

Allende’s life seem to have a “when it rains it pours” air to it.  Whenever one bad thing happened it soon followed by another and then another. However, the bad situations were preceded by something good at first. Paula was just as adventurous as her mother. Paula dared to be different and was yet simple and humble when doing so. I find that as her grandmother Meme, had been so involved with other things Allende seem to be doing the same thing to her husband. However, he waits patiently on standby to embrace her whenever the opportunity presents itself.


Posted by on July 21, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.5 Paula (Pages 183-229)

By Niyati Patel

This section of the book begins with describing Chile being a nation of war in the beginning of 1973. Isabel talks about what is going on with the Public and the Government. She also talks about the states of many cities because there was no way to transport items from one city to another. Salvador Allende was having a hard time getting his voice hears and shortages were everywhere that Isabel had to begin hoarding food.

She now is in the present and she is telling Paula that Celia and Nicolas want Isabel there with them for the birth of their baby. She also tells Paula about her recovery after she wakes up from her coma and all the different tests are done to her. Another thing is she tells Paula that she is going to give her, the same advise on how to having the baby that she gave to Celia. Ernesto had a strong reaction to the perfume that the women in the elevator had on because that was the one Paula had worn. Then Isabel Suggests taking another women out on a date and Ernesto declines. After some time Isabel is irritated by the way the doctors look at Paula because they see her as a case rather then a person.

Isabel now takes us back to the past on September 11, 1973 when Allende was killed and the events that happened that day.  She specks about how the day was when the Coupe was occurring, no one was out in the streets and everything was quiet. She stated that the day Salvador Allende died was the same day the terror began. The section of the Book ends with Isabel describing her life after Allende’s death.

The new section starts with the present once again. Isabel is told that Paula has brain damage, the hospital does not know the cause, and nothing can be done for her now. Isabel is having a hard time accepting this so Isabel decides to take Paula to California with her. While leaving Ernesto’s and Paula’s apartment, Ernesto hands Isabel a letter that had Paula’s writing on it “To be opened after I die” (209).

Paula is now settled in the Clinic and Isabel finds out that the brain damage was caused by an accident or error in her treatment. In the rest of the section Isabel goes on talking about her life during the terror.

Fragments from the film “Machuca”

In this section I learned a lot about Isabel, she is brave and quite forgiving. Her brave aspects are shown when she is involved in many underground activities. Even though at first she was not aware of the risks involved with helping people find asylum or delivering packages to people. She states in the book that she and Michael realize the twisted reality of their life in that how a simple task of delivering a letter can cost your own life or be subjected to torture and death. Even though she often thinks that maybe she should have stayed in Chile during the dictatorship and not left. But, in my perspective I would have left long ago and not waited it out the long time she had.

The forgiving aspect saw was when she found out about the cause of Paula’s brain damage and the cause was most likely the hospitals fault and not the illness’s. She does not go after them or anything but merely accepts the prognosis. I know for sure if that if I was in her position I would not have taken the path that Isabel took but quite the opposite.


Posted by on July 19, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.4 Paula (Pages 139-183)

By Ethan Parrish

This section begins with Isabel discovering a feminist side of herself and getting a job with a feminist magazine. The magazine causes a stir in a male dominated society and when Isabel manages to interview an unfaithful wife it demolishes the pretense that women were simply subjective and did nothing out of line. However, at home she remains the perfect housewife and does not stop to think that her new ideals should come into her everyday home life.
Isabel receives a notice to come identify the body of Tomas Allende and she originally thinks that it is her brother, but upon arrival it is her father. Thankfully for her, Tío Ramón comes as well and identifies the body to cease all doubt. Upon the identification they learn that Isabel has a half brother and her father had three other children whom he gave the same names as her and her brothers. This is an intense moment in her life, but not the first dead body that she had seen. The fisherman that molested her was found dead the day after the incident and Isabel walked up on the body. She lost the contents of her stomach and felt extreme guilt that their mutual sin had resulted in only his death.
Paula is moved from intensive care and Isabel remarks that she is like a two-week-old baby. Isabel tries to work out Paula’s muscles on her own, as the hospital is short staffed to little avail. Willie tries to visit as often as possible and while he is there Isabel can sleep without medication and feels calm. However, Willie feels that there is no hope and Paula is lost. The other comfort that Isabel draws from is a sort of family that has been created out of the other patients in the ward, nuns, and the family of the patients; they trade stories and comfort. One day she takes Paula outside and one of the group dances for her, when all of the sudden Paula opens her eyes and begins to cry.
In September 1970 Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile and was the first Marxist to be democratically elected; his rise created a large divide in the country. Isabel’s mother in law “Granny” began drinking at this point, but it was a secret to most. Tío Ramón was named ambassador to Argentina and Isabel was introduced to Maria Teresa Juarez who predicted her future with four items: bloodbath in her country, her motionless for a long time, her only path was writing, and that one of her children will be known in many parts of the world.
As the section ends Aurelia, one of the hospital family, recites a poem for Paula that says Paula is ready to move on, but her mother will not allow her and holds on like an anchor.

Isabel becomes absorbed in a feminist movement, but does not bring it to her home. This is strange to me because it makes it seem that she doesn’t really believe in the ideals. Why would you preach one thing and yet not practice it?
When she learns of her father’s death she is not moved at all except by the fact that he had three other children that he gave his first three children’s names too. This is a very strange occurrence and seems to speak volumes about his life. The telling of her guilt about the death of the fisherman is confusing, but I assume at that age she honestly thought she had done wrong as well as he.
Isabel’s hospital family is indicative of her desire to have a family unit because for most of her life she has had limited access to family due to her excessive travel. The election of Allende to president is the beginning of the end of the fairytale that she had developed in Chile with her children and husband; the upheaval is eventually too much for the country to stand. Finally, the predictions by the woman are cryptic in that they actually came true, but the poem by Aurelia is even more so due to the fact that it is what Isabel feels, but refuses to admit.


Posted by on July 18, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.3 Paula (Pages 92-139)

By Marquisse Jackson

This section starts off with Paula becoming really sick and actually passing over to the other side for a while.  The doctors and nurses had even given up on resuscitating her, until her mother and grandmother came to her bedside and begged for her to live and the monitors flickered.  They were able to get her back but she has now been in a Coma for two months, and her grandmother still petitions God to save her granddaughter in exchange for her own life. (92)

Isabel then flashes back to her relationship with Michael, describing the alienation she felt from her own cousins versus the love she felt from Michael’s parents. (95)  After graduation she gets a job as a UN secretary, but her style of writing is not professional and lands her in a lower position until a man who knew her father came and moved her to the department of information where she got her feet wet in both journalism and television.  During this time she also translates romantic books from English to Spanish. (98)

To Isabel sex was a mystery.  Since at the time it was taboo, she was frustrated with figuring it out.  The “magic” pill contraceptive came out when she was young, but she never saw a condom until Paula brought one home and by then she was 40 (103).  Her introduction to sex and men and women was with a man that sold sea urchins to her grandfather and his putting her hand on his crotch and letting her know if she wants to know how mom and dad do it then meet him later in the woods.  She was 8, and it was on Christmas.  He didn’t have sex with her when they went off that night, but he sexually abused her.  Regardless of this fact, she says she doesn’t feel scared but holds a tender spot for the man who didn’t rape her.(109)

Back in her present she has the neurologist unhook Paula from the respirator in an attempt to force her to breathe, but she doesn’t and is instead put on a schedule to lower her oxygen dependency.  Willie comes down for 5 days to be with her after this event (110). She tells Paula about her and Michael’s hasty decision to wed (111).  The started off their marriage with six months paid rent and a stocked pantry in a house that was impractically large, and thieves quickly relieved them of their stores and belongings.  After her move to her grandfather’s house, she meets mama Hilda who adopts her after her bout with what she thought was syphilis (116).

Paula soon “wakes” up from her coma and opens her eyes breathing on her own,  but Paula still suffers strokes and spasms.  Ernesto’s father and her mother soon leave her due to pure exhaustion to watch over Paula alone  (130).
Isabel was given a chance to break into television talking of world hunger in the 60’s.  (131)  Michael and Isabel soon found themselves living in Switzerland and Belgium because of his engineering and her television.  They were still poor, and in their travels with Paula she never knew what it was like to have toys or solid walls since they lived in a tent. (136)  They soon returned to Chile after she became pregnant with Nicolas.  (138)

This is definitely an important part of the book that deals with birth and death.  Isabel talks of the grief and disbelief she had in the death of her uncle.   She talks of how that tragedy was so abrupt that no one even could bare to speak of him.  He grandfather is an interesting man who reminds me of many old men, the type who are just waiting to die but end up outliving us all out of pure obstinate thinking.  I think her whole compare and contrast of his fighting spirit when compared to her daughter fighting her coma shows how much she believes in her family’s strength.  So when Paula comes back from being dead and then is eventually able to work herself off her respirator, it’s amazing to see the fight in her.

Of course then there are the two births of her kids and how when they happen she says she knew before she took a test.  How even with her not knowing much about sex early on, she could always predict when she got pregnant at the exact moment, and that pregnancy was not as much of a choice as a natural step in her life.  Even with her progressive mindset, marriage and children were still in her plan.  She didn’t just want the career, but even states that she looked forward to Michael working and supporting them while she stayed home with the children.

Her being pressured into an early wedding was an obvious mistake, and the situation pretty much turned out as bad as it could.  But even through all of that, she never gave up.  Even when all her things were stolen and their house vandalized, they simply moved on and kept going.  The traveling back and forth was obviously something they wanted to do, but I imagine it was very interesting with a 2 year old.


Posted by on July 17, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.2 Paula (Pages 49-92)

By Jake Lankford

This reading begins with Isabel and her mother back at the hospital with the dying don Manuel sighing, “May God watch over your princess” (50).  She recalls the times when she used to go read her father’s “forbidden books” in the cellar of her grandfather’s house.  At this time in her life, she begins to learn a lot about life’s lessons through Tío Ramón and describes her own reign of terror with Margara.  “Santa Clause” teaches young Isabel to not be greedy in the parts of life that cannot be changed, while her mother and Tío Ramón give her a passion for art starting with a Chagall picture; as she is allowed to create her own mural.  Isabel describes the intense love between Paula and Ernesto, after Paula decided that, “I want a man, a love like yours” (57).  To describe her own first love, Isabel goes into the sequence of when her family moved to La Paz and her first experience in a co-ed school.

After Bolivia, diplomatic necessities called Tío Ramón to Lebanon; where the family would spend three years.  Isabel admits that she harbored some hatred for Tío Ramón; however, “he earned his avuncular title as a symbol of admiration and confidence” (63).  Isabel was educated in an English school that taught her to memorize most of the Bible; however, this conflicted with the belly-dancing and whispers of “Elvis Presley” (65).  Tío Ramón goes through a challenging teaching session with Isabel, where she, “learned how to defend herself”.  She gives detailed experiences of encounters with North Americans and their rock ‘n’ roll.  Another lesson from Tío Ramón is learned when he catches the children stealing from his three-sectioned wardrobe.  She learns of sex and mystery in a copy of A Thousand and One Nights that she finds in this same piece of furniture.  The next sequence describes one of Isabel’s dreams where Paula dies and floats to Heaven.  She continues to have these “horrific visions” and says that she has, “two lives – one waking, and the other sleeping” (73).  Also, she states that she has, “come to term with the Spanish culture”; and that her mother likes ugly men, but that she was, “a fighting bull” (74).

We find out that Carmen, Isabel’s agent, is the one who urges Isabel to write to Paula, so that she does not go crazy and so Paula can read what happened while she was in a coma.  Many family members come to visit, including Ernesto’s father and Willie from time-to-time (Isabel’s husband).  Even with the writing, Isabel still, “loses interest in the news of the world” and visualizes her daughter, “inside a glass pyramid isolated from harm in a magic space” (79).  As Isabel describes her pain, she reflects on the events surrounding her First Communion, “in which her uncertainty began” (80).  Ernesto’s father keeps his son active so that he also does not go crazy, and Isabel is humbled by his presence and respect he has for his daughter-in-law.

Another flashback sequence leads us to the markets of Beirut and the inherent bargaining skills that her mother seemed to possess; however, violent uprisings in July 1958 over the Suez Canal saw the invasion of U.S. Marines, gun battles, and crude forms of execution.  It is during this time that she finds more confidence in Miss St. John, her English teacher who did her best to keep the school open amid the opposing forces.  Finally, the Lebanese government advised all diplomats and their families to leave the country, “as their safety could not be guaranteed” (87).  This caused Tío Ramón to be reassigned to Turkey, while the children to move back into their grandfather’s house in Chile.

From this point on, her grandfather made her get an education.  It was during her education that Isabel fell in love with Paula’s father, Michael, “which was the beginning of a long, sweet courtship destined to last many years before being consummated” (91).  Her grandfather remarked how the English descendant would, “improve the race”, jokingly giving Isabel a hard time when, “she admitted to him that she was in love” (92).

This part of the read definitely pulls at a person’s heartstrings; as we learn all of the hardships that Isabel went through, the intense love that is shared between Paula and Ernesto, and the affection that everyone has towards Paula once they simply see her.  I really like the way that Isabel tells the story of her life and how it is interconnected with so many different people all over the world.  However, I found myself very melancholy because I believe that, as much as I do not want to, that Paula will not recover as the reading goes on and on.  The reading is supplemented by the intense description of La Paz, Beirut, and of Santiago – all places that scream culture, but are countered with encounters with the ugly side of life (people trying to rape/have sex, cheat people on bargains, and treat others as something less than human).  Through these descriptions, Isabel gives us a perfectly balanced story of how life really tends to play out in reality –it can be beautiful and harsh, gentle and violent, and lively but deadly.

The deep character descriptions; of Tío Ramón, of Ernesto and his father, and of some of Isabel’s past loves all culminate to produce a reading that makes me feel personally touched by that character – like I actually know them and can see them vividly in a representation of life.  I do not really appreciate the way the world treats women in Isabel’s past; however, I understand that the problem had to be recognized for people to change and alter for the betterment of all parties involved.  It is still sad that these misjudgments of character and mistreatment/abuse of woman continues to this day in some parts of the world and in isolated instances in the United States (for example, Ariel Castro, the man convicted of enslaving and beating 3 woman and his very own child that he produced in captivity –recent American news

On the brighter side, I was mesmerized by the deep love that Ernesto has for Paula and see his long battle as a representation of the love that some people never truly grasp/understand – something that I believe is True Love.  This love gives Ernesto the strength to continue on, giving himself a calmness and certainty that spreads to others around him, even seen in the nursing staff.  Overall, this is one of the best reads that I found has stirred my emotions inside, and given me an appreciation for the life that I do have.


Posted by on July 16, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.1 Paula (Pages 3-49)

By Elizabeth Blakley

Isabel Allende’s novel immediately makes it clear that the narrator is sharing her story with a specific subject, as she addresses Paula by name and demands her attention. It is soon revealed that Paula is Allende’s daughter, and is presently comatose in the care of hospital staff. This came to be after she suffered from an acute attack of Porphyria – a diagnosis which she had received some time ago, and continually worked to manage – and was hospitalized for treatment. After her attack escalated and she stopped breathing, the hospital managed to revive her and continue to provide medical care. However, she became irate when lucid again, and the staff sedated her in order to keep her under control. At the time of Allende’s narration, a month has passed and her daughter has not woken up from this sedation.

Allende chooses to write the story of her daughter’s life and family history, as her way of processing the despair which she feels upon seeing Paula become unresponsive. She begins with the tale of how her (Isabel Allende’s) own grandparents met, and the loving relationship which formed between the stoic man and the woman who was deeply fascinated by the supernatural. Their bond is painted as widely positive, though Allende does acknowledge that the couple could rarely truly view one another as equals – with the final exception coming at the moment of her grandfather’s death. She then goes on to explain her own mother’s life, telling of how she married an aristocrat and moved to Peru. With an absentee husband, who was far more interested in his personal exploits than with his wife or family, she was left largely alone to raise her growing number of children. However, when her husband was involved in a scandal and fled, she returned with her children to Chile to live with her parents. The rest of the reading focuses on Allende’s childhood, her family’s belief that children were not to be pampered but prepared for a difficult life, and the eventual courtship and remarriage of her mother to a man named Ramón.

As someone fascinated by child development, I find the generational difference in Allende’s upbringing to be fascinating. The idea that children should be subjected to sadness and discomfort simply to prepare them for a difficult life (such as when Allende’s uncles stood her on a stove’s burners, or actively tried to tease them to the point of tears) is one that is largely foreign to me, even having listened to how my own grandparents were raised. It absolutely makes sense based upon the upbringing of the adults in the household, and the society in which they lived (which was, Allende explained, one that spent most of its time in solemnity), but nonetheless it stands in startling contrast to my own experiences. I do enjoy the fact that Allende acknowledges that she would have made martyrs out of her children by attempting the same treatment today, and that this treatment was simply a necessity of the time. To see how cultural differences change child rearing strategies is incredibly interesting to me, and it can be seen in her present relationship with her family, which seems distant in comparison to the ways in which she addresses her own children.


Posted by on July 13, 2013 in 3 Allende


3.0 Paula (1994)


Allende, Isabel. Paula. Trans. Margaret Sayers Peden. New York: Harper Perennial, 1995. Print. (ISBN: 978-0-06-156490-1)

Original language: Spanish

Synopsis from the Back Cover:
“When Isabel Allende’s daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and fell into a coma, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious child. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. With Paula, Allende has written a powerful autobiography whose straightforward acceptance of the magical and spiritual worlds will remind readers of her first book, The House of the Spirits.”

Like The House of the Spirits, Paula is a book that was born from a series of letters Isabel Allende writes to a family member. The first is addressed to her grandfather and the second to her daughter Paula while she is in a comma after a porphyria attack. The initial purpose of her writing is to put her family history in order to tell it to Paula once she wakes up from her state, but that never happens, and the writing, in the form of letters to her own mother about her suffering, becomes a way to mourn and cope with the grief of an unavoidable end.

Paula Frías Allende died on December 6, 1992 at age 28.

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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in 3 Allende