Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere


José Rizal

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Noli Me Tangere: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

In San Diego’s Catholic cemetery, two men are digging a grave. One complains to the other, who is a more experienced gravedigger, about the fact that they are digging into the site of a recent grave. The experienced gravedigger makes fun of his companion, saying, “If you had dug up a twenty-day-old corpse the way I have, at night, in the dark, in the rain…and my lantern went out…The coffin came open and the body almost came out. It stunk. And we had to carry it…” He goes on to tell his friend that the head priest ordered him to do this. At a certain point, an old man approaches and asks the gravedigger where a skull he put in the cemetery has gone. The gravedigger doesn’t know, and the old man berates him, accusing him of not understanding how important his job is.
Rizal’s characteristic use of ellipses in the gravedigger’s dialogue indicates that the gravedigger is saying something of importance, and one can intuit that the body he’s referring to is Don Rafael’s, since it has already been noted that Don Rafael’s corpse was exhumed. The fact that he justifies digging up a body by saying that the head priest ordered him to do it once again shows the absurd power of the San Diego friars, who can seemingly demand anything.
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