Synopsis of the Noli Me Tangere
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Chapter 28: NightfallSummary
Manila newspapers talk about the good things Ibarra has done and urge people to emulate him. In an attempt to be like Ibarra, Capitan Tiago planned to finance (all by himself) the building of a convent. Maria Clara asks permission to go out with her girlfriends, along with Ibarra. Capitan Tiago asks her to come home early because Padre Damaso was coming to their house for an early dinner.
Capitan Tiago wanted Ibarra to settle his differences with Padre Damaso (supposedly over dinner), but Ibarra said that he was needed at his house because he was expecting (hah!) a visitor.
Anyway, getting back to Maria Clara's "outing" with her friends, she was of course chaperoned by Tia Isabel. They also pass by the house of Sinang (child of Capitan Basilio) to invite her out as well.
The group passes by the convent (Padre Damaso is there). They also see the house of the alferes. Sinang jokes that Padre Salvi should be the husband of Doņa Consolacion.
They see a leper (ketongin). Maria Clara, moved by compassion, gives the leper a locket (given by Capitan Tiago) which contains a religious relic (agnos) -- a piece of wood from the boat which Jesus rode thousands of years ago.
The leper tearfully kisses the ground on which Maria Clara trod. Maria Clara also weeps a bit. She sees the insane Sisa walking around and Ibarra promises to help Sisa. The chapter ends with the group returning home.
The scene between Maria Clara and the leper will be brought up again in the El Filibusterismo. Basilio (in the El Fili) will cure that leper and will receive, in payment, Maria Clara's locket. The El Fili reveals Rizal's belief that leprosy is NOT contagious (except in the case of very young children with sensitive skin, as well as those with broken skin).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What can you say about Capitan Tiago's attempt to reconcile Ibarra and Padre Damaso?
It's pretty narrow-minded of him, naive even, to think that Ibarra would readily forget the way Padre Damaso desecrated Don Rafael's grave (not to mention his life).
2. Where did Maria Clara get her ultra-demure ways?
Probably from the teachings at the convent. Rizal likened Maria Clara to a butterfly which, free from its chrysallis/cocoon, was lightly flitting about. You see, Maria Clara was sort of locked up in the convent (cocoon), yet when she went outside those monastic walls, she was like a child again.
3. Rizal revealed what he thought of the courts:
Don Basilio mentioned that those who win in the courts end up losing their shirts. The same sentiment is expressed by Old Man Selo to Cabesang Tales in the El Fili. It's probably no wonder Rizal did not take up law. I wouldn't be surprised if they also had nasty jokes about lawyers way back in the late 1800s. ;-)
4. Why did Sinang stare in wonder at the lights around the church bells?
Padre Salvi, in an effort to control expenses, didn't usually turn on those lights. He made an exception since he knew that Maria Clara was in the town of San Diego. Sheesh, a fraile who wanted to impress a woman...
5. Where did leprosy come from?
People thought the leper got the disease from his mother. Others supposed that the sickness came from being locked up in a cold jail cell.
6. What's the point of Maria Clara's: "There are people who aren't happy afterall."
It shows how sheltered Maria Clara's life has been -- stuck in the convent, or living in the opulent house of the Delos Santos family (Capitan Tiago). Just like Ibarra, Maria Clara was a stranger in her own country (where up to today, a significant portion of the population is living below the poverty line). Perhaps this is Rizal's dig at schools which fail to inculcate in her students a better sense of socio-civic consciousness.
Related LinksThis chapter talks about a locket which Maria Clara gave to a leper. Inside that locket is a splinter of wood supposedly taken from the boat which Jesus rode many years ago.
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