Manual The House of the Spirits: Shmoop Study Guide

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Crown Publishers, New York, The action takes place over two days during the battles of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, on April 18 and 19, This was the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.

The setting is the colonial village of Lexington, Massachusetts. Adam Cooper, the fifteen-year-old main character and narrator of the story, is getting water from the family well for dinner.

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He has a premonition of death and doom and says a spell to banish evil spirits from the well. The younger brother, Levi, overhears Adam reciting the spell and taunts his brother that he will tell their father. Adam remembers how his father, Moses, once beat him for reciting spells.

The House of the Spirits

The father gave the reason that spells were not so much blasphemy as ignorance. For this insubordination, his father gave him ten more strokes. Adam takes the water to his mother in the kitchen, who is beginning the dinner. Adam runs upstairs for relief to his Grandmother, Granny, the mother of Moses. She is the only one in the house who understands him. They share a piece of maple sugar candy. Adam questions her about whether she believes in God. Granny acts shocked by the question. Adam asks her why his parents criticize him for everything he does.

Adam defends himself. He merely told Ruth about Isaiah Peterkin, the church deacon.

Isaiah is mean and two-faced and cannot be a model of Christianity. Adam claims he was in Boston when he heard a Committeeman say the highest good was to doubt. Granny asks if the Committeeman was connected to Sam Adams, and when Adam says yes, she remarks Adams is an atheist.

Granny insists that doubt is a negative thing. Adam enjoys the back and forth discussion with Granny, the only one who will talk over things with him. His parents think he is a problem. Adam helps Granny down the stairs to supper. At the table there is an empty place set for guests who might show up. Moses enjoys pontificating at meals, and most people cannot win an argument against him. Moses even makes the prayer into an argument with God.

Adam sits at supper dreaming of going to sea when he is old enough, like his Uncle Ishmael Jamison. Suddenly, his father begins to question him, and the room gets tense. His father tries to shame him for saying a spell. Granny tries to argue with her son to take the pressure off Adam. They are interrupted by Cousin Joseph Simmons, who joins them for dinner.

Simmons wants to talk to Moses about the Committee meeting they will attend that evening.


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Simmons had been appointed to make a statement on the rights of man that they would all sign and send to Boston. Although Moses was better fitted for the task, he was too busy. Simmons begins to read the document and Moses argues with the wording. Adam asks his father if he can go to the meeting.

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His father says he is only 15, a year too young. He asks Adam if he can reason like a man, and Adam cannot say yes, so he is forced to stay home. Adam asks his mother why his father hates him after the men leave. His mother says Moses loves Adam. Granny explains that Moses is just pig-headed like his father was.

It runs in the family. Adam leaves the house and yells at his little brother, Levi, who told on him and caused the family upset. This chapter introduces the characters, colonial life, the Revolutionary Committees, inspired by such leaders as Samuel Adams, and the conflict between Adam and his father, Moses. Adam Cooper is a teenaged boy wanting to be taken seriously as a man. His father reprimands him for everything.

It is the perennial coming-of-age scenario where the young man chafes against the boundaries of childhood, wanting to test his wings in the adult world. As Granny points out, the father and son are not so different. They are both stubborn and both question the status quo. The conflict centers around a spell that Adam repeats to remove evil spirits from the well. He is overcome by a sense of evil and foreboding the coming battle and automatically says the spell though he knows his father will punish him if he finds out.

Schmendrick and Molly watch in terror as the Bull herds the unicorn. Molly pleads with Schmendrick; there's got to be something he can do! The wizard musters all his courage and casts a spell over the unicorn to turn her into a different shape.

The House of the Spirits

That way, the Bull will no longer smell her scent. The unicorn transforms into a human woman, Lady Amalthea. Upon seeing Amalthea for the first time, Prince Lir instantly falls in love. Lir vows to win the Lady's heart. He has slain 5 dragons already.

After the man dies, what becomes of the boy?

He goes out to slay another in her honor. Lir succeeds in winning the heart of Lady Amalthea, to the point that she wishes she didn't have to turn back into a unicorn. Lir's heroism helps the unicorn defeat the Red Bull, and Schmendrick saves the day with another successful spell. A not-so-happily-ever-after ensues, however, when Lady Amalthea is forced to cede her marriage to Lir.

The unicorn turns back into a unicorn. She goes out in search of the last of her kin. Along the journey, the unicorn makes friends with Schmendrick , an apprentice magician, and Molly Grue , an ex-bandit hired assassin who poses as Maid Marian from the Tales of Robin Hood. On their search for the dreaded Red Bull not the energy drink , Schmendrick accidentally transforms the unicorn into a human woman. In order to sneak her into the castle at Hagsgate, where the Red Bull is known to be kept, Schmendrick and Molly give her a new name: The dreadful King Haggard and his adopted son Prince Lir welcome the travelers, whereupon Lir falls desperately in love with Amalthea and vows to slay a dragon in her honor.

The Last Unicorn ends on a sad note. Though everyone happens to get what they want, Lady Amalthea must return to her true unicorn form and relinquish her love for Lir. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree.

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The videos on Study. Students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. Explore over 4, video courses. Find a degree that fits your goals. Try it risk-free for 30 days. Ivy Roberts Ivy is a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying media studies and cultural history. Add to Add to Add to. Mose Durst. Shmoop Literature Guide: Orlando.