The Green House: summary, characters, plot and more

The Green House is another famous novel written by Mario Vargas Llosa in 1966. It is his second literary work, the first being La ciudad y los perros, published in 1963 by Editorial Barral. Find all the details of La casa verde below.

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Summary of The Green House

Vargas Llosa’s second novel is set in the modest village of Pura, where a strange man has arrived on a donkey, crossing the dunes that border the neighbouring village. This mysterious figure never explained where he came from or where he went each time he rode his donkey. It is worth mentioning that the donkey has been represented by many characters, one of these important stories is Platero y Yo.

Don Anselmo, who is this mysterious man, decides to build a house in one of the most dangerous and poorest suburbs of Pura, known as Mangachería. Don Anselmo did not listen to the advice of his neighbours, who warned him about the area and the daily life of its inhabitants. Later, in La casa verde, Don Anselmo claims to be from Peru.

The character begins to build his house, impressing his neighbours by painting the façade green. The interior also attracted attention, with a variety of rooms and a spacious living room that would allow Don Anselmo to rest in his own home.

Gradually, Don Anselmo equipped his new green house with beds, washing machines and mirrors for all the rooms. The villagers suspect that Anselmo is a strange man and that his arrival has brought a series of strange events to the neighbourhood. One of these was the arrival of several prostitutes, known as “habitantas”. The neighbours claimed that Don Anselmo’s greenhouse was a brothel.

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The priest of Mangachería launched a series of destructive criticisms against Don Anselmo and the Green House, because despite the warnings of the people, irregular and unorthodox situations continued to be observed in his house. The story takes a turn when he explains the arrival of Antonia, a girl who had lost her parents in a murder. Her arrival on the sand dunes left her unbalanced, fainting, almost dead and dehydrated.

In front of the astonished eyes of the citizens, Antonia remained with lost eyes and a face that was like a sheet of paper. A charitable woman called Juana Baura took care of her until she was taken home to look after her fragile health. One day, Antonia disappeared from Juana Baura’s house and everyone believed that Don Anselmo had kidnapped her to prostitute her, as she had a unique and extraordinary beauty.

Everyone assumed that Don Anselmo had fallen in love with Antonia and had taken her to the greenhouse. Later they discover that all their suspicions were true, as Anselmo raped her and as a result of this abuse the beautiful young woman became pregnant by him. When it was time to give birth, Antonia died of complications. At Toña’s funeral, the people were furious that Anselmo had gone unpunished and that the greenhouse continued to be used as a den.

After the funeral, the group of people who had accompanied Antonia to her final resting place decided to go to the greenhouse to set it on fire and kill him for perversion and promoting prostitution. When the rioters arrived, they destroyed the façade of the Green House and Don Anselmo was lynched, but in the end they were lenient and forgave him as he walked out of the door holding his newborn baby.

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All the people who were against Don Anselmo rose up against the priest García, whom they called “quemador”. Although Don Anselmo was pardoned by the community, his misfortune caught up with him and his business collapsed, he had no strength left to look after his daughter and left her in the care of Juana Baura, the same humble woman who took care of Antonia. Poverty is a recurring theme in the literary world, and it is also present in Mi planta de naranja lima.

Years go by and few people remember Don Anselmo and the Green House as a place of prostitution. The house is part of the legends told by the elders who witnessed Don Anselmo’s influence in that place, which to this day creates a mystery as to its origin. Other villagers claim to have seen Don Anselmo conducting a musical orchestra, and in his new world he is known as the Harpist.

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La casa verde takes a complete turn when the plot of Don Anselmo ends and gives way to the story of El Sargento, who also lived in the same village of Piura. El Sargento had a rather peculiar group of friends, for his friends were womanisers, drunks and aimless louths. From a young age he had always wanted to join the local police force, and his dream came true when he was sent to the jungle.

While in the jungle, the Sergeant closely observes a group of missionary women who pray and speak the word of God in the jungle, but he particularly notices one of them, Bonifacia, who has a complicated history, having been kidnapped from her tribe by a group of wild rebels. The military officer takes a liking to Bonifacia and leaves her in the care of the Mother Superior.

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Before joining the missionary group, the chief wanted to take Bonifacia as his wife and housekeeper, but she decided to stay with the Blessed Women, whom she loved dearly and to whom she was grateful for helping her when she needed it most. She then left the women to work as a maid for Adrian Nieves, a married former soldier. Although she was not serving, she posed as an active guard to join the search for the escaped missionaries.

Adrián meets El Sargento because he also joined the expedition, the two become close friends and Adrián takes the opportunity to invite him to his home. El Sargento accepts the man’s invitation and meets Bonifacia, whom he falls in love with at first sight because of her beauty and openness. One day, when no one is at Adrián’s house, the sergeant takes the opportunity to visit Bonifacia and court her.

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At first it was difficult for El Sargento to conquer the girl, but soon she could not resist. Just as he was about to ask her to marry him, he was given a new mission in Rio Santiago, geographically located on the border with Ecuador. El Sargento’s mission was to arrest smugglers who were stealing people’s belongings and selling them across the border.

After successfully completing his mission, El Sargento married Bonifacia in a modest ceremony; however, La casa verde continues to intertwine their story when the military man is ordered to capture Adrián Nieves for being incognito and knowingly deserting from the military world, along with his relationship with the smugglers of the Santiago River. The friendship between the two men was so strong that El Sargento advised Nieves to disappear into the jungle to avoid being caught by the authorities.

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Rather than spend his life trying to escape his fate, Adrián decides to surrender to the law and serve his sentence. The sergeant succeeds in another mission and shares his joy with Bonifacia, telling her that they must return to Piura. For other love stories, see Raindow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.

The bad company caused El Sargento to change his attitude, to become an aggressive man with no limits, to the point of beating his wife on several occasions, because he did not know how to accept his new life and also because he did not approve of his friendship with his friends on the street. The sergeant was told about the Green House, a gambling and entertainment centre run by the daughter of the late Don Anselmo.

El Sargento had a violent argument with a stranger about gambling, the man took his gun and shot himself in the head. El Sargento is blamed for this affair and is immediately arrested by the police and taken to Lima. After some time, El Sargento returns home, promising to rebuild their relationship, but finds that his wife is now the mistress of one of his former friends. Bonifacia has also become a prostitute in the greenhouse, prompting El Sargento to beat her and her friend Josefino.

The priest García still blames the Green House for continuing to function as a casino and prostitution room, and blames Don Anselmo’s daughter for keeping these men in vice. The sergeant resigns himself to his wife Bonifacia’s new life.

The Green House tells the story of a thief and smuggler named Fushia who goes into the Peruvian jungle to escape justice. He is not a man who has many friends, as no one wants to deal with him because of his crimes, but Aquilino was one of his fellow adventurers along the way. Together with Aquilino, they dedicated themselves to smuggling among the indigenous tribes.

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In this story, one of Bonifacia’s first protectors, Julio Reátegui, reappears, who also evades justice by fleeing when it is discovered that he is involved in the illegal trafficking of rubber and cattle skins.

Fushia knows very well that the police are looking for Don Julio, and as he has fallen in love with his wife, he decides to give her to them in exchange for plenty of food to survive in the jungle, all in exchange for not turning him in to the authorities. When Fushia arrives at the Santiago River, he continues his criminal activities of smuggling rubber and furs, unaware of the consequences or the fact that justice has long been on his trail.

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Fushia is joined by Adran Nieves, who also became a fugitive from justice in the previous story. Fushia soon married Lalita and the couple had a son, whom he named Aquilino in honour of his late friend. Fushia’s abuse of his wife was not long in coming, as he brutally beat her or had sex with prostitutes in front of her.

The consequences of his actions were not long in coming for this delinquent, as he became seriously ill from the lyrics, causing his virility and sex life to dwindle. To make matters worse, his breath was so bad that he could not approach Lalita to kiss her or talk to her; everything was from a distance. The woman, fed up with her lifestyle, decides to flee to the mountains with Adrian Nieves to start a new life. Nieves tells Lalita everything that El Sargento has done in the past.

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Everyone shunned the sick Fushia, and the only thing that remained in his mind was the memory of his dear friend Aquilino. His late friend advises him to stay away from this life and smuggling forever, as he is beginning to pay for his actions and there is still time to repent. So he takes his little spear and sets off for the Amazon. En route, he decides to seek help at a leper colony.

Aquilino tells him that Lalita did not stay with Adrián Nieves for long, because the police managed to arrest him after a long time. A few months later, Lalita had married for the third time, this time to a watchman known to her people as “El pesador” (The Weigher). She had several children with him, and as a result her body lost the slender figure that characterised her. These events added to the sadness of Fushia’s life, who now had only Aquilino’s spirit to rely on.

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Summary by chapter of The Green House

Vargas Llosa’s novel is divided into four chapters, which in turn are divided into sub-chapters that tell the parallel stories of Don Anselmo, El Sargento and Fushia. Another interesting literary work with a high chapter density is Campos de fresas by Jordi Sierra, which tells the story of a group of teenagers involved in vices.

First chapter

  • The sergeant and Adrián Nieves go into the jungle to carry out a series of orders from the highest authorities. Together with other companions, they admire the beauty of the missionaries who are close to them.
  • Some of the sisters escape from their rooms, while the Mother Superior and Mother Angelica remain in fear.
  • Fushia’s best friend, Aquilino, who used to work as an administrator, appears, but his health has deteriorated over time.
  • Fushia does his evil deeds in the jungle. He goes into the swamp to trade with the natives for their skins and rubber.
  • Don Anselmo’s daughter takes charge of the greenhouse after his death.
  • The Mother Superior questions Bonifacia’s contact with the men and women who visit the Green House.

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  • Don Julio gives Fushia a set of ammunition to survive in the jungle in exchange for her silence. The criminal also wanted to keep his wife.
  • The story is told of Don Anselmo, a stranger who arrived in Piura on a donkey and set up a greenhouse in a rather dangerous area. His house was large and had many rooms, which attracted the attention of all his neighbours.
  • Don Anselmo watched with morbid curiosity all the women who passed in front of him and the greenhouse. He was always drunk and insulted the younger girls.
  • The owner of the greenhouse met Antonia, a young woman who had arrived in Piura in the worst of circumstances, with no family, no money and on the verge of dying of dehydration.

Second chapter

  • The sergeant, El Rubio and Adrián Nieves arrive at their tents and have a long discussion about the pagan ideas of the people.
  • They talk about the crimes committed by Julio Reátegui, Adrián Nieves and Fushio in connection with smuggling.
  • In addition to the illicit trade in furs, coats and rubber, women also took part in the bartering among the bandits.
  • Antonia became Don Anselmo’s new wife, but she did not live long enough, dying in childbirth.
  • The neighbours, strangers, claim that Don Anselmo took advantage of the girl’s weakness to make her his wife.

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  • The Sergeant regrets not having married Bonifacia before leaving on his new mission.
  • A series of descriptions are given of the changes that the greenhouse has undergone in the hands of La Chunga.
  • The sergeant returns triumphant from his mission and is finally able to marry Bonifacia.
  • The character of Juana Baura appears, who takes care of Antonia before Don Anselmo makes her his wife.

Third chapter

  • The marriage between El Sargento and Bonifacia had changed, he became more insecure and jealous of his other companions who saw Bonifacia late at night.
  • Once again, El Sargento went on a journey, leaving Bonifacia alone to return from Rio Santiago in three weeks’ time.
  • Lalita becomes the wife of the ruffian Fushia.
  • Fushia takes his current wife to live in the same hut where Aquilino spent his last days. He also tells her that he will be a rich and powerful man, respected by all.
  • Antonia’s wake is held. Juana Baura has suffered greatly over the girl’s death.
  • An angry mob goes to the greenhouse to destroy it and Don Anselmo.
  • All the citizens were moved by the sight of Don Anselmo leaving the house with his little baby in his arms.
  • Some blamed Anselmo for Antonia’s death because he had impregnated her and kept her under control for several months.
  • Lalita, feeling abandoned, was corrupted by the escaped missionaries and became a prostitute in the Green House. All her clients knew her as La Selvática.

Chapter Four

  • Don Anselmo slowly begins to fall into a state of depression, a product of guilt and drunkenness.
  • Don Anselmo’s economic situation had reached breaking point. The greenhouse continued to generate income, but not as much as expected.
  • Father García visited Don Anselmo before his death to forgive his sins.
  • Juana Baura takes charge of Don Anselmo’s daughter.
  • The sergeant beats his wife when he learns that she is prostituting herself in the greenhouse under the pseudonym of La Selvática.
  • Meanwhile, Fushio begins to abuse Lalita, to the point of sleeping with other tribal women in front of her.
  • La Chunga takes over the greenhouse and opens a gambling den.
  • Fushia falls ill and only Aquilino’s words appear in her mind to make her think.
  • Aquilino becomes more present in Fushia’s moments of illness because he misses her company.

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Plot of The Green House

Vargas Llosa’s La casa verde (The Green House) tells three stories that intertwine throughout the novel, when the characters in them link their lives or are directly connected by a nexus. It tells the story of Don Anselmo, a strange man who one day arrives in the town of Piura to build the Green House, whose movements inside frighten his neighbours because of the unusual number of women who enter and leave the house.

The people were against the activities taking place in the greenhouse, so they took matters into their own hands and lynched the man who was promoting perversion and lust from his house. Father García ordered a group of people to burn the house, but they were moved by the sight of Anselmo carrying his little daughter. All the townspeople turned against the priest, calling him a “burner”. Soon after, Don Anselmo died and his daughter took over the house.

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The greenhouse was later visited several times by Lituma, also known as El Sargento. A native of Piuma, he had a distinguished military career, but his bad friendships caused him to fall on hard times and get into debt. He met Bonifacia, a girl who had been taken in by the missionaries in the jungle when Julio Reátegui could no longer look after her.

The abuse was not long in coming, as El Sargente had bad encounters with his friends, because he beat his wife when he found out about her prostitution. When he was released, he went to apologise to Bonifacia, but she had already found a life with another man, an active member of the Civil Guard who also knew Lituma.

The final story in La casa verde is that of Fushia, a smuggler who trafficked cattle hides and rubber in the border region of Ecuador. He has led a life of running in different directions to avoid being caught. His best friend is a man called Aquilino, who is his right-hand man and confidant. His end is very sad because he is left alone with the memory of his best friend who died some time before. You can also consult other works by the author, such as Cinco esquinas.

Analysis of The Green House

When reading Vargas Llosa’s work, it is possible to notice a highly descriptive narrative, especially when the author emphasises the description of each element in the jungle and in Piura. In the same way, when Don Anselmo’s Green House is mentioned, the details are striking, because he explains everything that is around and inside it in such detail that the reader is intimately involved in every movement of the house.

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The time of the play is circular, because the characters make a series of evocations into the past and then return to the point of origin, which is the present, the narrative now. In the same way, the action is not entirely continuous, because from the action of Don Anselmo we jump to the action of El Sargento or that of Fushia. If you want to know a story about dystopian societies, it is essential to know A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Characters in The Green House


-Don Anselmo: He is a mysterious man who one day settles in Mangachería, a small village in Piura. No one knows where he comes from or where he goes. All that is known is that he is Peruvian. His arrival caused a stir when he set up a brothel under the façade of a greenhouse. Father of La Chunga. In the end he died of illness, ruined both financially and morally.

-Sergeant Lituma: another of the main characters in The Green House. His friendships have been a bad influence and as a result he mistreats his wife Bonifacia, whom he met in the jungle. In the end, he ends up alone and abandoned by the military.

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-Fushia: An ambitious man who uses his power to subjugate the weakest. He dreams of becoming richer and more powerful through the illegal trade in rubber and cattle skins. His best friend is Aquilino. He marries Lalita, whom he also abuses in marriage. He falls ill with leprosy and Lalita leaves him. The memory of Aquilino is all he has left.

-Bonifacia: a young woman of singular beauty, who has captivated more than one Civil Guard. She marries El Sargento and they live happily ever after until he changes and becomes a violent man. She ends up as a prostitute in the Green House under the name of La Selvática.

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-Lalita: She was also from an indigenous tribe. She married the delinquent Fushia and had a child named Aquilino. She suffered many humiliations at the hands of her husband and left him when she contracted leprosy. She eloped with Adrián Nieves.

-Adrián Nieves: a military deserter who, with Fushia, actively participated in the trafficking of furs and rubber. He remains in prison for a while, but when he is released, he escapes with Lalita.

-La Chunga: Don Anselmo’s daughter. She was raised by Juana Baura when Antonia died. She runs the Green House, which maintains its old rhythm of prostitution, along with a gambling room.

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Reviews of The Green House

The Green House has been well received by literary critics and the general public. Its success is comparable to that of The City and the Dogs, which he wrote three years ago. Vargas Llosa is pleasantly surprised by the success of these two works, mainly because people liked his writing style and the way he captured the military life of his early years. Other stories have been unexpectedly unsuccessful, such as the adaptations of Shadowhunters.

Although the stories are intertwined, the reader never loses track of the action, as there are clear breaks between the same paragraphs when moving from one plot to another, making The Green House a fairly systematic work.

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