Synopsis of the Noli Me Tangere
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Chapter 1: A GatheringIn late October, Don Santiago de los Santos (otherwise known as Capitan Tiago), hosted a dinner at his house on Anloague Street. The descriptions of the house could be likened to the status of Philippine society under Spanish rule. Among the characters we meet are a Teniente Guevara, Padre Sibyla (Dominican) and Padre Damaso (Franciscan). Padre Damaso spent 20 years as parish priest in San Diego. The angry conversation between Padre Damaso and the soldier reveals that a good man, whose son was in Europe, died. His body was exhumed by the San Diego parish priest and ordered buried elsewhere.
- It is not yet clear why Capitan Tiago is hosting a dinner. It will be learned only in later chapters that the dinner is in honor of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, the novel's lead character, who is returning to the Philippines from Europe.
- It is almost All Souls' Day.
- Introduced in this chapter is Doña Victorina, a memorable and insufferable character of the Noli.
Questions and Answers
- What undesirable traits of Filipinos were mentioned in this chapter? Attending parties even if not invited, extravagant parties (because no one knew how many people were coming), the host does not get to eat dinner.
- How did Rizal liken the Philippines to Capitan Tiago's house? The country, like the house, is open to all (Philippine hospitality). But Filipinos are not interested in business or entrepreneurship, and have a hard time embracing new ideas (because of conservatism). Any new endeavor is met with doubts from many sectors, but once success is achieved, everyone wants to share in the glory.
- What is the significance of the argument between Padre Damaso and Teniente Guevara? This exemplifies the difficulty of uniting Church and State. Take note of the assassination of Capitan Heneral Bustamante. History also tells of the bloody struggle for the Spanish throne between the liberal supporters of Queen Cristina and the friar-supported Carlist movement.
- What was the effect of this on Philippine government? Frequent changes in the Spanish monarchy translated to a high turnover of Capitan Henerales in the Philippines. Given their short stint, these men in government took either advantage of their position by engaging in corruption, or did not bother to govern well.
- What was Padre Damaso mad about? He was upset about his being sent away from San Diego, where he served as parish priest for 20 years. He got angry at someone and branded him a heretic. When the "heretic" died, he was buried in the church (because Padre Damaso was not around). When Padre Damaso returned, he ordered the body exhumed and buried in the Chinese cemetery. This unjust act was reported to the Capitan Heneral by Teniente Guevara, and Padre Damaso was transferred out of San Diego.
Padre Damaso started to say something about letters being lost during his transfer, but he did not finish his sentence. Actually, these are letters written to Padre Damaso by some...woman.
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