“Daughter of Fortune” Novel by Isabel Allende

Patriarchy in the novel Daughter of Fortune

The author uses the text to refer to a society where men dominate and have an exercising authority over women and children (Allende 2). The author demonstrates how Jeremy controls Sommer’s household and describes his character as a rigid man (Allende 4). The author spearheads the theme of patriarchy by illustrating how Agustin Del Valle exercises authority over his daughter, Eliza, and the people working in his company. He purposely becomes strict to diminish women’s freedom and exhort men’s superiority. However, we find Agustin’s daughter trying to disobey him even though he is strict.

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Eliza decides to set off on a journey to California in search of Joaquin when she discovers that she is pregnant with Joaquin’s child. Her search for love journey changes over time. She now starts another kind of journey that changes her and she ends up looking for her freedom and independence. This shows that women in the novel do not have any freedom of their own. She runs away to California to seek fortunes to reunite with her lover. Eliza keeps her love life secret because her mother is planning to give her in a socially exalted marriage. This explains that women in the novel do not have the right to choose their spouses.

While analyzing the second part of the book, we find Eliza trying to rebel against patriarchy where she persistently advocates for her independence and identity. The author portrays that women use rebellion and other means of making their way out to pursue their interests in a patriarchal society. This explains why Eliza disguised herself and was aiming at uniting with the people in California and ultimately, gained her freedom and independence.

Chilean cultures during the mid to late 19th century as presented in the novel

The author explores Chilean culture in the period during the mid to late 19th century. She portrays Chileans as people who have cultural values that exhort the hegemony of men and this gives them the mandate to control women. Patriarchy is one of the major characteristics of Chilean culture. Men dominate and control household resources (Allende 4).

Chilean culture also values the need for men to work hard so that they can provide for their families. An example of this is when Joaquin decides to leave his low paying job and go to search for greater wealth. Women, according to the culture, should stay back at home to do household chores. Another characteristic of the Chilean culture is the value for social status. This is when Eliza’s mother Rose Sommer’s plans to wed her on a socially exalted marriage (Allende 54).

Chilean culture does not appreciate the freedom and independence of women. To some extent, it is culturally unacceptable for a woman to choose a lover of her choice. For example, Augustine is not happy with her daughter’s relationship with Feliciano because of his low status. Still in the novel, Eliza is neglecting her father’s role in influencing her fate. Since Eliza is to establish her destiny, she flees to California to search for freedom and uniting with her lover (Allende 52).

The atmosphere in California beginning in 1848 with the Gold Rush

In the novel, the author depicts a vibrant atmosphere of California in 1848 where everyone is trying to make ends meet. California has many new inhabitants who are in search of wealth and a better life. The economy of this country was poor until 1849 when they discover a new source of wealth. The low economy affects the inhabitants a lot. For example, it becomes a challenge for Joaquin to wed Eliza because of the difference in status.

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During this period, the nation has single men and prostitutes who are working in the streets to live a comfortable life. It is the era characterized by Gold fever or rush for fortune. At this time, Eliza runs away to California to look for her lover Joaquin who was once had been working in a Sommer’s trading company as a mere clerk (Allende 4). During this time, one can argue that people were busy looking for their fortunes.

After arriving in California, Eliza begins earning for living by playing piano in the Church (Allende 12). She also realizes that she can easily cope with people if she disguises herself as a man. She earns a lot of money from selling Chilean snacks. She got the culinary and medical skills from Mama Fresia, the Sommers’ Indian servant. She was thus able to lead her own life.

Tao, a Chinese Physician strives to succeed in California irrespective of his dark past characterized by misfortunes and poverty and becomes a very resourceful friend to Eliza (Allende 6). Joaquin goes to California after stealing some money from Sommers’ companies. In the process of searching for his fortune, he meets Eliza in California, and they remain friends for life.

Eliza’s feeling of freedom in California

When Eliza goes to California in search of her lover, she discovers freedom even though survival was tough (Allende 52). From my perspective, I think she cherishes her newly found freedom so extensively only because Eliza manages to disguise herself as a Chile boy (Allende 33).

From a careful analysis of literature, it is evident that she disguises herself as a male to gain social acceptance since men are more socially accepted than women. It is because of her freedom that Eliza manages to play piano in the brothel and sell Chilean snacks to earn money for her upkeep. It is through her freedom that Eliza manages to utilize her gifts and talents openly without fear of discrimination.

Having being raised at Sommer’s homestead, she never had the privilege to discover herself. She did not have the freedom of expression (Allende 5), but she finally disobeys her father and drives away to California to seek her fortune and love, but in the end, we see that she gets more of that. Eliza must decide on what is true love for her. Is it her freedom and independence, or her long-gone love for Joaquin?

Her disguise almost puts her into trouble when she enters a traveling caravan carrying prostitutes. People mistake Eliza to be a homosexual though she gains acceptance as a pianist and a cook in the caravan (Allende 332). According to the author, California opens a door to a new life of freedom and independence for young Eliza (Allende 35).

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History of Chile from the mid-1500s to the modern-day

In a shift of focus, evidence from the literature has revealed that tremendous transformations have been experienced in Chile from the mid-1500s to the modern-day. Geographically, Chile is bordered by Peru on the south whereas on the west side; we have two neighboring countries namely Bolivia and Argentina (Kurtz 275). Chile is the longest land in the world. It stretches over 4,500 KM. The country consists of a narrow strip that stretches between the Pacific and Andes.

In the year 1818, the country became independent of Spain and it has developed the basics of a modern state. In this case, it has centralized control and two-party systems. Currently, the country has a constitutional government after being transformed from dictatorial and military regimes in the past (Kurtz 277).

Politically, Chile is a republic with a democratic presidential system of governance. The president of the republic is both heads of government and chief of state and is elected by direct balloting for six years (and is not eligible for a direct second term) (South America – official site of the U.S. Air Force – Home, n.d). The legislative branch consists of a bicameral National Congress. The Senate consists of 47 seats. 39 seats are occupied by candidates elected by people during the popular vote. The popular vote is taken every eight years. The remaining eight senators are nominated (Kurtz 279) “while former presidents are automatically senators for life” (Kurtz 279). There is also the chamber of Deputies. This chamber consists of 120 members, who are elected for four years (Kurtz 277).

The political party of Chile used to be one of the strongest parties in Latin America. In the last two decades, however, Chilean politics have become increasingly “technocratic” (South America – official site of the U.S. Air Force – Home, n.d). This led to the possession of technical expertise, particularly in finance and economics most important requirements for the candidates to possess if they wanted to be elected to the Senate. However, at the same time, political skills were neglected (Kurtz 277).

Economically, the country has not been doing well, and its status was almost close to that of the third world countries. In 1890, the country experienced its first economic crisis. (Kurtz 277) which resulted in the long depression. This was characterized by urbanization and industrialization of the economy. However, the Chilean economy is market-oriented and largely relies on agriculture, fishing, mining, and forestry to generate income this has made the country gain financial dependency (Kurtz 277).

Isabel Allende’s personal and tragic connection to Chile

From a careful review of the literature, one can argue that the author of this novel has a private and tragic connection to Chile. This could be attributed to the fact that, by the time, she was writing the novel she was in exile in Venezuela (Martinez 57). As a journalist, she took much of her time to write numerous works both fictional and non-fiction.

However, it is not clearly stated why the author was taken to exile at that time. One can argue that since she was a journalist, probably she kept on rebuking the Chileans for being fond of absurd traditions that were dominating the country (Martinez 59). From the plot of the novel, the author holds personal contempt against some of the country’s traditions such as patriotic routines and symbols. Moreover, the author could have rebelled against the patriarchal nature of the land, and the best way to gain freedom was to move out of the country (Martinez 54).

Works Cited

Allende, Isabel. Daughter of Fortune. New York: HarperCollins. 2006. Print.

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“Chile Facts, Information, pictures” encyclopedia.com. Web.

Kurtz, Marcus. “Free Markets and Democratic Consolidation in Chile: The National Politics of Rural Transformation.” Politics & Society 27.2 (1999): 275-301. Print.

Martinez, Nelly. “Isabel Allende’s Fictional World: Roads to Freedom.” Latin American Literary Review 30.60 (2002): 51-73. Print.

South America – official site of the U.S. Air Force – Home. Web.

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