The old man who asked the gravedigger about a skull now wanders the streets. His name is Tasio, and the townspeople either call him a madman or a philosopher depending on their opinion of him and his strange ways. He values rationalism and philosophy rather than religion, which is uncommon in town. Near the church, he comes upon the mayor and playfully chastises him for installing a new bell tower, saying that this extravagant addition to the church will surely attract lightning from the storm that is brewing. As he says this, a bolt flashes and the mayor crosses himself as Tasio laughs disapprovingly, critiquing the mayor’s frivolous use of money and his superstitious ways.
Tasio represents pure freedom of thought in a world that refuses to accommodate ideas that go against prevailing power structures (like the Catholic church or the Spanish government). His claim that the church’s new bell tower will attract lightning is surely symbolic, a way of expressing that God cares little for such extravagances. Tasio seems to understand that San Diego lacks spirituality despite its supposed devotion to religion, a devotion that often seems to only manifest itself monetarily.
Leaving the mayor behind, Tasio passes two young boys who are studying to be sextons. He asks if they’re coming home with him, since he lives near their mother, who is expecting them for dinner. They tell him that the chief sexton won’t let them leave until eight o’clock and that they have to go up the tower to ring bells to commemorate souls trapped in purgatory. Tasio tells them to be careful and continues on his way.
The fact that two young boys trying to make a meager living must put themselves in danger by mounting the bell tower in a lightning storm further reinforces the idea that the church doesn’t have the townspeople’s best interests in mind. Tasio, on the other hand, shows concern for the boys’ safety. In this way, Rizal invites readers to side with this secular old man, showing him capable of empathy in a way the friars are not. As such, Rizal endorses rational thinking over the power-hungry religious zeal promoted by the Catholic church.
As Tasio walks the streets, a voice calls from a window and invites him inside. It’s Don Filipo, the deputy mayor and “almost liberal” party chief. Inside, Tasio, Filipo, and Filipo’s wife talk about Ibarra’s appearance in the graveyard that afternoon. Tasio tells them that he complained to the Captain General when he saw the “extraordinary profanation” brought about by the exhumation of Don Rafael’s body. This conversation leads to a discussion of purgatory, and Tasio makes clear that he doesn’t pay much attention to the notion of saving souls who languish between heaven and hell, giving his listeners a long history of how the idea of purgatory entered into Catholicism, though he doesn’t finish this lecture. Instead, he takes his leave, lamenting the fact that on this day—All Souls’ Day—“Christian piety permits robbery” that the government allows to happen. He flees into the night, lightning breaking across the sky.
All Souls’ Day commemorates deceased people living in purgatory. As these souls wait, they must repent for the sins they didn’t repent for on earth. The friars of San Diego take advantage of this by selling plenary indulgences to churchgoers. The priests claim that buying indulgences shortens the length of time a soul languishes in purgatory. This is what Tasio refers to when he says that “Christian piety permits robbery” on All Souls’ Day, because he doesn’t believe such economic transactions have any effect on how long a soul must stay in purgatory. In addition, readers also see in this moment yet another instance in which the government yields to the church, as Tasio points out that the government sanctions the church’s greediness in the name of this holiday.