Miguel is able to occasionally visit Alba. Alba shows Miguel where she and Jaime stashed the weapons they pilfered from Esteban. Miguel unearths the weapons for the guerrillas. Alba also sells whatever she can of the family possessions, in order to help Miguel. When she sells the portrait of Clara, Esteban tells her she must stop, but he sets her up with a bank account which he keeps full and which she can spend as she pleases. Under the new regime, Esteban's business enterprises are doing extremely well, and he has money to spare.
Unbeknownst to Esteban, the political police have Alba under surveillance. One night, they break in, ransack the house, and take Alba away. Esteban protests, but is unable to stop them. The political police deliver Alba to the colonel who now heads the military dictatorship, Esteban Garcia.
Political commentary and analysis takes precedence over plot development, although the plot continues to unravel. Military dictatorship is described in all of its shocking detail. It is shown to effect not only the poor and middle classes, but also the former conservative upper classes. Although conservative practices were criticized in earlier chapters, they are here distinguished form the ruthless and overtly brutal practices of a military dictatorship. Esteban's initial belief in the effectiveness of a military coup and his preliminary support for it, however, blur the dividing line between a conservative regime and a military dictatorship.
Converse to its deadly effects on most of the population, the military dictatorship creates enormous financial benefits for the upper classes. The presentation of this dynamic indicts capitalism as a tool of dictatorship. Capitalism can be recuperated or redeemed if it can be diverted into socialist practices. Esteban succeeds in this diversion as he pours his earnings into the account he sets up for Alba, who in turn distributes the money to those in need.
Although no particular country has been clearly named as the setting for the novel, the description of the military regime resembles perfectly those of the South America's Southern Cone (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru). Similarly, no exact date has been given for the setting of the novel, but again based on references to the appearance of automobiles and other technological inventions, as well as the characters' precise ages, it can be assumed that this chapter takes place in the 1970s, precisely the time when the Southern Cone was racked by military dictatorships. The chapter's title, "The Terror" recalls names given to various periods in Southern Cone dictatorships, such as "The Process" and "The Dirty War" in Argentina.
In old age and in the face of great suffering, Esteban completes his transformation from a patriarchal tyrant to a lovable old man. He realizes the mistakes he has made, both politically and personally and is able to redeem himself to a certain extent by helping his former enemies. Just as Pedro Tercero extracted Esteban from the hand of the peasants years before, Esteban ferrets Pedro Tercero and Blanca out of the country. A repetition, with the roles reversed, of the exact conversation the two men had during the first intervention underlines the parallel between the two men's actions. Still, much of Esteban's realization comes too late. He has lost so much of his political and physical power that, although he would like to, he is incapable of predicting, influencing, or fighting off the soldiers who burst into his house and take Alba away.
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