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Noli Me Tangere

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Touch Me Not/Social Cancer

Touch Me Not/Social Cancer


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  • Within the plot are episodes and images, which may not have improved the unity and sequence of the story, but effectively carry out Rizal's purposes in writing it. The scene in the cockpit sarcastically portrays the humiliating effects of the Filipinos' passion for gambling. The vivid All Soul's Day dialogue of the Tertiaries on the gaining of indulgence is a condemnation of fanaticism and superstition. The fiesta sermon of Father Dámaso eloquently protests against the alleged hypocrisies and tyranny of the friars. In these episodes perhaps, rather than in the novel as a whole, lie the book's power. The discussions of Elias and Ibarra disclose possible solutions, and though Rizal is against a bloody revolution, he states that it is inevitable if radical reforms are not forthcoming.
  • Characters of El FilibusterismoSimoun - Crisóstomo Ibarra disguised as a wealthy jeweler, bent on starting a revolution to get revenge on the people who had accused him wrongly. Disguised as the top adviser of the Captain-General.Basilio - The eldest of Sisa's two sons, now an aspiring doctor whose medical education was being financed by Capitan Tiago. He is now at the point of graduation during the events in the novel.Isagani - Poet and Basilio's best friend; portrayed as emotional and reactive; PaulitaGómez' boyfriend before being dumped for fellow student JuanitoPeláezKabesang Tales - Telesforo Juan de Dios, a former cabeza de barangay(barangay head) of Sagpang, a barangay in San Diego's neighboring town Tiani, who resurfaced as the feared Luzón bandit Matanglawin (Tagalog for "Hawkeye"); he dies eventually after his own son Tano, who became a guardia civil, unknowingly shoots him in an encounter on the mountains.Don Custodio - Custodio de Salazar y Sánchez de Monteredondo, a famous "journalist" who was asked by the students about his decision for the Academia de Castellano. In reality, he is quite an ordinary fellow who married a rich woman in order to be a member of Manila's high society.Paulita Gomez - The girlfriend of Isagani and the niece of DoñaVictorina, the old Indio who passes herself off as a Peninsular, who is the wife of the quack doctor Tiburcio de Espadaña. In the end, she and JuanitoPeláez are wed, and she dumps Isagani, believing that she will have no future if she marries him.Macaraig - One of Isagani's classmates at the University of Santo Tomas. He is a rich student and serves as the leader of the students yearning to build the Academia de Castellano.Father Florentino - Isagani's godfather, and a secular priest; was engaged to be married, but chose to be a priest after being pressured by his mother, the story hinting at the ambivalence of his decision as he chooses an assignment to a remote place, living in solitude near the sea.Juli - Juliana de Dios, the girlfriend of Basilio, and the youngest daughter of Kabesang Tales. To claim her father from the bandits, she had to work as a maid under the supervision of HermanaPenchang. Eventually, she was freed but committed suicide after Father Camorra attempted to rape her.JuanitoPelaez - The son of Don TimoteoPelaez, a Spanish businessman, he is also one of the members of Macaraig's gang who wish to have the Academia de Castellano built. He is considered by Isagani as his rival to Paulita Gomez, the woman whom he fell in love and wed in the end. PlacidoPenitente considers him as a "good for nothing" classmate.DoñaVictorina - Victorinadelos Reyes de Espadaña, known in Noli Me Tangere as Tiburcio de Espadaña's cruel wife. She is the aunt of Paulita Gomez, and favors JuanitoPelaez than Isagani. Although of Indio ideology, she considers herself as one of the Peninsular.Father Camorra - The parish priest of Tiani, San Diego's adjacent town. He has been desiring young women ever since. He nearly raped Juli causing the latter to commit suicide.Ben-Zayb - The pseudonym of Abraham Ibañez, a journalist who believes he is the "only" one thinking in the Philippines. (Ben-Zayb is an anagram of Ybanez, an alternate spelling of his name.)PlacidoPenitente - A student of the University of Santo Tomas who was very intelligent and wise but did not want, if not only by his mother's plea, to pursue his studies. He also controls his temper against Padre Millon, his physics teacher.HermanaPenchang - Sagpang's rich pusakal (gambler). She offers Huli to be her maid so the latter can obtain money to free Kabesang Tales. Disbelieving of Huli and her close friends, she considers herself as an ally of the friars.Tiburcio de Espadaña - Don Tiburcio is Victorina de Espadaña's lame husband. He is currently on hiding with Father Florentino.Father Írenë - Captain Tiago's spiritual adviser. Although reluctant, he helped the students to establish the Academia de Castellano after being convinced by giving him a chestnut. The only witness to Captain Tiago's death, he forged the last will and testament of the latter so Basilio will obtain nothing from the inheritance.Quiroga - A Chinese businessman who dreamed of being a consul for his country in the Philippines. He hid Simoun's weapons inside his house.Don TimoteoPelaez - Juanito's father. He is a rich businessmen and arranges a wedding for his son and Paulita. He and Simoun became business partners.TandangSelo - Father of Kabesang Tales. He raised the sick and young Basilio after he left their house in Noli me Tangere. He died in an encounter on the mountains with his son Tales.Father Fernández - The priest-friend of Isagani. He promised to Isagani that he and the other priests will give in to the students' demands.Sandoval - The vice-leader of Macaraig's gang. A Spanish classmate of Isagani, he coerces his fellow classmates to lead alongside him the opening of the Spanish language academy.HermanaBáli - Another gambler in Tiani. She became Huli's mother-figure and counselor; helped to release Kabesang Tales from the hands of bandits.Pasta - One of the great lawyers of mid-Hispanic Manila, opposed the students' demands for a Spanish language academyFather Millon - The Physics teacher of the University of Santo Tomas. He always becomes vindictive with Placido and always taunts him during class.Tadeo - Macaraig's classmate. He, along with the other three members of their gang, supposedly posted the posters that "thanked" Don Custodio and Father Irene for the opening of the Academia de Castellano.Leeds - An American who holds stage plays starring decapitated heads.Tano - KabesangTales's elder son after his older sister, Lucia died in childhood. He is currently one of the Guardia Civil. He then returned under the name Carolino after his exile in Caroline Islands.Pepay - Don Custodio's supposed "girlfriend". A dancer, she is always agitated of her "boyfriend"'s plans. She seems to be a close friend of Macaraig.Captain-General (no specific name) - The highest-ranking official in the Philippines during the Spanish era. Pretending that what he is doing is for the good of the Indios, the local citizens of the country, but in reality, he prioritizes the needs of his fellow Spaniards living in the country.Pecson - Basilio's classmate who had no idea on the happenings occurring around him. He suggested that they held the mock celebration at the panciteria.Father Hernando de la Sibyla- A Dominican friar introduced in Noli Me Tangere, now the vice-rector of the University of Santo TomasFather Bernardo Salvi- Former parish priest of San Diego, now the director and chaplain of the Santa Clara ConventCaptain Tiago - Santiago delos Santos, although making a cameo appearance, Captain Tiago is Maria Clara's father and the foster-father to Basilio. His health disintegrates gradually because of the opium he was forced to smoke given to him by Father Irene
  • Transcript

    • 1. Textual Analysis of Noli Me Tangere The Author and the Novel’s style, Title, Cover, Preface, Theme, Characters, Plot, Point of Conflict and Denouement
    • 2. The author and the novel’s style Technique refers to the method and devices that the author uses; style refers to language.
    • 3.  The Noli me tángere can be regarded as a historical novel, as it has mostly fictional characters but also historical persons like Father Burgos who lived in actual places within a social system that was then typical of a colonized land.  Admittedly, Rizal exaggerated a bit, as in his portrayal of characters like the friars Damaso, Salvi, and Sibyla; the two women who were preoccupied with prayers and novenas, and, the Espadañas but, on the whole, the novel follows the basic rules of realism.
    • 4.  Humor worked best where a more serious presentation of the general practices of religion during that time (and even up to present time) would have given the novel a darker and pessimistic tone.  Rizal’s description of the lavish fiesta showed the comic antics at church and the ridiculous expense for one day of festivities.
    • 5. Title
    • 6. Noli me tángere  Literally translated, the Latin words “noli me tángere” means, “touch me not”  Taken from John 20:17 when Mary Magdalene holds on to Jesus and he tells her not to touch him. John 20:17 Jesus said to her: “Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet ascended to the Father . But be on your way to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and to your Father and to my God and your God.”
    • 7. Cover
    • 8. CROSS- sufferings POMELO BLOSSOMS AND LAUREL LEAVES- honor and fidelity SILHOUETTE OF A FILIPINA- Maria Clara BURNING TORCH- rage and passion SUNFLOWERS- enlightenment BAMBOO STALKS THAT WERE CUT DOWN BUT GREW BACK- resilience A MAN IN A CASSOCK WITH HAIRY FEET- priests using religion in a dirty way CHAINS- slavery WHIPS- cruelties HELMET OF THE GUARDIA CIVILarrogance of those in authority
    • 9. At the top, all that is best in Philippine life: woman, symbolizing constancy, religious faith symbolized by the tombstone, with a laurel (courage) and the flower of the pomelo, worn by bride and groom at a wedding and symbolizing purity. The words partly covered by the title are the secret, inner dedication by Rizal to his parents, the complete text being probably: ‘A mis P(adres.) al escribir e(sta obra he estado) pensando continuamente e(n vosotros que me) habeis infundido los (primeros pensamientos) y las primeras ideas; a (vosotros os dedi)co este manuscrito de me (joventud com p)rueba de amor. Berlin, (21 de Febrero de) 1887. To the left of the title, the flower mirasol, representing youth seeking the sun. The author's name, meaning the green of renewal, mounting up into the green of the most enduring of all Philippine trees, the bamboo. At the bottom, all that is worst in Philippine life: the helmet of the Civil Guard, the whip and instruments of torture, and the foot of a friar.
    • 10. Preface  In the preface of his novel Rizal promises “to reproduce the condition (of the country) faithfully, without discrimination”. He wants to sacrifice “to truth everything”.  Rizal wrote in his dedication page in the Noli me tángere, “I will strive to reproduce thy condition faithfully, without discriminations; I will raise a part of the veil that covers the evil…”  He clearly stated his intention of giving an accurate picture of the conditions in the Philippines at the time, and this gives the reader a good idea what the main theme would be.
    • 11. Theme Theme as an element of fiction is the idea that runs through the whole novel, repeated again and again in various forms and ways.
    • 12.  The theme of ‘Noli me Tangere’ comes from the Gospel of John. John tells that when Jesus showed himself after the Resurrection, it was first to Mary Magdalene.  Jesus called her and she turned round and saw him. But Jesus did not want her to touch him. He said literally to her, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to the brothers and tell them: I am ascending to my father and your Father, my God and your God.”
    • 13.  The ‘Noli me Tangere’ or ‘Touch me not’ is a symbol of the need for distance.  The ‘Noli me Tangere’ is a similar theme of longing and unfulfilment.  There is no more tragic love and of course no greater love than of two beings unable to reach each other, since such a love eternally remains unblemished.  Rizal's book persistently unmasks contemporary Spaniards in the Philippines of every kind.  He exposes corruption and brutality of the civil guards which drive good men to crime and banditry.
    • 14.  He focuses on an administration crawling with self-seekers, out to make their fortune at the expense of the Filipinos, so that the few officials who are honest and sincere are unable to overcome the treacherous workings of the system, and their efforts to help the country often end up in frustration or in self-ruin.  The Noli is Rizal's exposé of corrupt friars who have made the Catholic religion an instrument for enriching and perpetuating themselves in power by seeking to mire ignorant Filipinos in fanaticism and superstition.  According to Rizal, instead of teaching Filipinos true Catholicism, they control the government by opposing all progress and persecuting members of the ilustrado unless they make themselves their servile flatterers.
    • 15. Rizal does not, however, spare his fellow countrymen.      The superstitious and hypocritical fanaticism of many who consider themselves religious people; the ignorance, corruption, and brutality of the Filipino civil guards; the passion for gambling unchecked by the thought of duty and responsibility; the servility of the wealthy Filipino towards friars and government officials; the ridiculous efforts of Filipinos to dissociate themselves from their fellowmen or to lord it over them--all these are ridiculed and disclosed.
    • 16.  Rizal nevertheless balances the national portrait by highlighting the virtues and good qualities of his unspoiled countryman:       the modesty and devotion of the Filipina, the unstinting hospitality of the Filipino family, the devotion of parents to their children and children to their parents, the deep sense of gratitude, and the solid common sense of the untutored peasant. It calls on the Filipino to recover his self-confidence, to appreciate his own worth, to return to the heritage of his ancestors, and to assert himself as the equal of the Spaniard. It insists on the need of education, of dedication to the country, and of absorbing aspects of foreign cultures that would enhance the native traditions."
    • 17. Characters Major characters
    • 18.  Ibarra (Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin) Son of a Filipino businessman, Don Rafael Ibarra, he studied in Europe for seven years. Ibarra is also María Clara's fiancé. Upon his return, Ibarra requested the local government of San Diego to construct a public school to promote education in the town.  María Clara (María Clara de los Santos y Alba) She was raised by Capitán Tiago, San Diego's cabeza de barangay and is the most beautiful and widely celebrated girl in San Diego. In the later parts of the novel, María Clara's identity was revealed as an illegitimate daughter of Father Dámaso, former parish curate of the town, and Doña Pía Alba, wife of Capitán Tiago. In the end she entered local covenant for nuns Beaterio de Santa Clara.
    • 19.   Capitán Tiago (Don Santiago de los Santos) is a Filipino businessman and the cabeza de barangay or head of barangay of the town of San Diego. He is also the known father of María Clara. He is also said to be a good Catholic, friend of the Spanish government and was considered as a Spanish by colonialists. Capitán Tiago never attended school, so he became a domestic helper of a Dominican friar who taught him informal education. He married Pía Alba from Santa Cruz. Padre Dámaso (Dámaso Verdolagas) is a Franciscan friar and the former parish curate of San Diego. He is best known as a notorious character who speaks with harsh words and has been a cruel priest during his stay in the town. He is the real father of María Clara and an enemy of Crisóstomo's father, Rafael Ibarra. Later, he and María Clara had bitter arguments whether she would marry Alfonso Linares or go to a convent. At the end of the novel, he is again re-assigned to a distant town and is found dead one day.
    • 20.  Elías is Ibarra's mysterious friend and ally. Elías made his first appearance as a pilot during a picnic of Ibarra and María Clara and her friends. He wants to revolutionize the country and to be freed from Spanish oppression.  Filosofo Tacio(Pilosopo Tasyo) Seeking for reforms from the government, he expresses his ideals in paper written in a cryptographic alphabet similar from hieroglyphs and Coptic figures hoping "that the future generations may be able to decipher it" and realized the abuse and oppression done by the conquerors. His full name is only known as Don Anastacio. The educated inhabitants of San Diego labeled him as Filosofo Tacio (Tacio the Sage) while others called him as Tacio el Loco (Insane Tacio) due to his exceptional talent for reasoning.
    • 21. Sisa, Crispín, and Basilio Sisa, Crispín, and Basilio represent a Filipino family persecuted by the Spanish authorities.    Narcisa or Sisa is the deranged mother of Basilio and Crispín. Described as beautiful and young, although she loves her children very much, she can not protect them from the beatings of her husband, Pedro. Crispín is Sisa's 7-year-old son. An altar boy, he was unjustly accused of stealing money from the church. After failing to force Crispín to return the money he allegedly stole, Father Salví and the head sacristan killed him. Basilio is Sisa's 10-year-old son. An acolyte tasked to ring the church bells for the Angelus, he faced the dread of losing his younger brother and falling of his mother into insanity.
    • 22. Other characters
    • 23.     Padre Hernando de la Sibyla – a Dominican friar. He is described as short and has fair skin. He is instructed by an old priest in his order to watch Crisóstomo Ibarra. Padre Bernardo Salví – the Franciscan curate of San Diego, secretly harboring lust for María Clara. He is described to be very thin and sickly. It is also hinted that his last name, "Salvi" is the shorter form of "Salvi" meaning Salvation, or "Salvi" is short for "Salvaje" meaning bad hinting to the fact that he is willing to kill an innocent child, Crispin, just to get his money back, though there was not enough evidence that it was Crispin who has stolen his 2 onzas. El Alférez or Alperes – chief of the Guardia Civil. Mortal enemy of the priests for power in San Diego and husband of Doña Consolacion. Doña Consolacíon – wife of the Alférez, nicknamed as la musa de los guardias civiles (The muse of the Civil Guards) or la Alféreza, was a former laundrywoman who passes herself as a Peninsular; best remembered for her abusive treatment of Sisa.
    • 24.       Doña Victorina (Doña Victorina de los Reyes de Espadaña) is an ambitious Filipina who classifies herself as a Spanish and mimics Spanish ladies by putting on heavy make-up. Don Tiburcio de Espadaña – Spanish Quack Doctor who is limp and submissive to his wife, Doña Victorina. Teniente Guevara - a close friend of Don Rafael Ibarra. He reveals to Crisóstomo how Don Rafael Ibarra's death came about. Alfonso Linares – A distant nephew of Tiburcio de Espanada, the would-be fiancé of María Clara. Although he presented himself as a practitioner of law, it was later revealed that he, just like Don Tiburcio, is a fraud. He later died due to given medications of Don Tiburcio. Tía Isabel - Capitán Tiago's cousin, who raised Maria Clara. Governor General (Gobernador Heneral) – Unnamed person in the novel, he is the most powerful official in the Philippines. He has great disdains against the friars and corrupt officials, and sympathizes Ibarra.
    • 25.  Don Filipo Lino – vice mayor of the town of San Diego, leader of the liberals.  Padre Manuel Martín - he is the linguistic curate of a nearby town, who says the sermon during San Diego's fiesta.  Don Rafael Ibarra - father of Crisóstomo Ibarra. Though he is the richest man in San Diego, he is also the most virtuous and generous.  Dona Pía Alba - wife of Capitan Tiago and mother of María Clara. She died giving birth to her. In reality, she was raped by Dámaso so she could bear a child.
    • 26. Non-recurring characters These characters were mentioned in the novel, appeared once, mentioned many times or have no major contribution to the storyline.
    • 27.     Don Pedro Eibarramendia - the great-grandfather of Crisóstomo Ibarra who came from the Basque area of Spain. He started the misfortunes of Elias' family. His descendants abbreviated their surname to Ibarra. He died of unknown reasons, but was seen as a decaying corpse on a Balite Tree. Don Saturnino Ibarra - the son of Don Pedro, father of Don Rafael and grandfather of Crisóstomo Ibarra. He was the one who developed the town of San Diego. He was described as a cruel man but was very clever. Salomé - Elías' sweetheart. She lives in a little house by the lake, and though Elías would like to marry her, he tells her that it would do her or their children no good to be related to a fugitive like himself. Sinang - Maria Clara's friend. Because Crisóstomo Ibarra offered half of the school he was building to Sinang, he gained Capitan Basilio's support.
    • 28.        Iday, Andeng and Victoria - Maria Clara's other friends. Capitán Basilio - Sinang's father, leader of the conservatives. Pedro – the abusive husband of Sisa who loves cockfighting. Tandáng Pablo – The leader of the tulisanes (bandits), whose family was destroyed because of the Spaniards. El hombre amarillo (apparently means "yellowish person", named as Taong Madilaw) - One of Crisostomo Ibarra's would-be assassins. He is not named in the novel, and only described as such. In the novel, he carved the cornerstone for Ibarra's school. Instead of killing Ibarra, he was killed by his cornerstone. Lucas - the brother of the taong madilaw. He planned a revolution against the government with Ibarra as the leader after he was turned down by Ibarra. He was said to have a scar on his left cheek. He would later be killed by the Sakristan Mayor. Bruno and Tarsilo – a pair of brothers whose father was killed by the Spaniards.
    • 29.  Ñor Juan (Ñol Juan) - appointed as foreman of the school to be built by Ibarra  Capitana Tika - Sinang's mother and wife of Capitan Basilio.  Albino - a former seminarian who joined the picnic with Ibarra and María Clara. Was later captured during the revolution.  Capitana María Elena - a nationalist woman who defends Ibarra of the memory of his father.  Capitán Tinong and Capitán Valentín - other known people from the town of San Diego.  Sacristán Mayor - The one who governs the altar boys and killed Crispín for his accusation.
    • 30. Plot
    • 31.  The plot revolves around Crisostomo Ibarra, mixed-race heir of a wealthy clan, returning home after seven years in Europe and filled with ideas on how to better the lot of his countrymen. Striving for reforms, he is confronted by an abusive ecclesiastical hierarchy and a Spanish civil administration by turns indifferent and cruel.  The death of Ibarra’s father, Don Rafael, prior to his homecoming, and the refusal of a Catholic burial by Padre Damaso, the parish priest, provokes Ibarra into hitting the priest, for which Ibarra is excommunicated. The decree is rescinded, however, when the governor general intervenes.
    • 32.  The friar and his successor, Padre Salvi, embody the rotten state of the clergy. Their tangled feelings—one paternal, the other carnal—for Maria Clara, Ibarra’s sweetheart and rich Capitan Tiago’s beautiful daughter, steel their determination to spoil Ibarra’s plans for a school.  The town philosopher Tasio wryly notes similar past attempts have failed, and his sage commentary makes clear that all colonial masters fear that an enlightened people will throw off the yoke of oppression.
    • 33.  Using satire brilliantly, Rizal creates other memorable characters whose lives manifest the poisonous effects of religious and colonial oppression.  Capitan Tiago; the social climber Doña Victorina de Espadaña and her toothless Spanish husband;  the Guardia Civil head and his harridan of a wife; the sorority of devout women;  the disaffected peasants forced to become outlaws: in sum, a microcosm of Philippine society.  In the afflictions that plague them, Rizal paints a harrowing picture of his beloved but suffering country in a work that speaks eloquently not just to Filipinos but to all who have endured or witnessed oppression.
    • 34. Point of conflict
    • 35.     Ibarra debates with the mysterious Elias, with whose life his is intertwined. The privileged Ibarra favors peaceful means, while Elias, who has suffered injustice at the hands of the authorities, believes violence is the only option. Ibarra’s enemies, particularly Salvi, implicate him in a fake insurrection, though the evidence against him is weak. Then Maria Clara betrays him to protect a dark family secret, public exposure of which would be ruinous. Ibarra escapes from prison with Elias’s help and confronts her. She explains why, Ibarra forgives her, and he and Elias flee to the lake. But chased by the Guardia Civil, one dies while the other survives. Convinced Ibarra’s dead, Maria Clara enters the nunnery, refusing a marriage arranged by Padre Damaso. Her unhappy fate and that of the more memorable Sisa, driven mad by the fate of her sons, symbolize the country’s condition, at once beautiful and miserable.
    • 36. Crisostomo Ibarra  As the protagonist of the novel, Crisostomo Ibarra is the character in whose character the main conflict resides. It is easy enough to identify the external conflicts: Ibarra versus the society of his time -- its values and its prejudices; Ibarra versus Father Damaso and, indirectly, with the other friars; Ibarra versus Kapitan Tiago whose very strong sense of self-preservation puts him in direct conflict with the love between Maria Clara and Ibarra.
    • 37. Maria clara  Maria Clara did not really resolve the conflicts within her; she chose to escape, by entering the convent as a nun.  Rightly or wrongly, Maria Clara has been held as the ideal Filipina which, perhaps, is the reason why many Filipinas prefer to be or pretend to prefer being a Maria Clara type with all its dubious virtues.  Many had used the convent as an escape from a world that could not give them happiness or the fulfilment they crave.
    • 38. Other confilicts  Other conflicts, mostly internal reside in other characters such as Sisa, Doña Victorina, Doña Consolacion, and Elias. However, the more internal conflict within Ibarra is the more interesting one, as it expresses the dilemma of present-day Filipinos: the conflict between traditional values and one’s personal values that had been developed through time.
    • 39. Denouement the final part of a play, film, etc. in which matters are explained or resolved.
    • 40.  Interestingly, Maria Clara’s escapism was revealed in the Epilogue when two patrolmen who sought shelter from a storm under the eaves near the nunnery.  They saw “a white figure standing almost on the ridge of the roof with arms and face raised toward the sky as if praying to it”. She escaped a problem through religion that was itself a part of that problem.  Ibarra’s enemies, particularly Salvi, implicate him in a fake insurrection, though the evidence against him is weak. Then Maria Clara betrays him to protect a dark family secret, public exposure of which would be ruinous. Ibarra escapes from prison with Elias’s help and confronts her.
    • 41.  She explains why, Ibarra forgives her, and he and Elias flee to the lake. But chased by the Guardia Civil, one dies while the other survives.  Convinced Ibarra’s dead, Maria Clara enters the nunnery, refusing a marriage arranged by Padre Damaso.  Her unhappy fate and that of the more memorable Sisa, driven mad by the fate of her sons, symbolize the country’s condition, at once beautiful and miserable.