Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Once Basilio comes inside, Sisa sees that he’s bleeding from the forehead. He tells her that the chief sexton ordered him to stay until ten but that he slipped away, defying the town’s curfew in order to come home. On his way, two members of the Civil Guard spotted him and fired gunshots, and one of the bullets grazed his forehead. He tells his mother that Crispín has stayed behind in the parish house, and changes the subject when she asks if he’s still alive. He tells her about the accusations that Crispín is a thief, and she believes him when he says these claims are false.
Once again, readers see a citizen of San Diego caught between the church and the government, since Basilio runs away from the church and by doing so is forced to violate the ensign’s curfew. As a result, the Civil Guard shoots at him. In this way, it becomes apparent that the entire town’s structure is rigged against people like Basilio who want nothing more than to earn a modest amount of money and spend time with family.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Basilio goes to sleep while his mother prays. In his dreams, he sees the chief sexton, the priest (Father Salví), and Crispín, who trembles in fright and looks for a place to hide. Furious, the priest questions him and then viciously strikes him with his cane. Crispín tries to run, but the chief sexton takes hold of him and the savage beating continues. Suddenly, Crispín swells with rage and bites the priest’s hand. The priest drops the cane, but the sexton finds a walking stick and slams it against Crispín’s head, knocking the boy unconscious. Angry that he’s been wounded, the priest goes on caning the youngster, who no longer responds to the pain.
Basilio’s dream is ominous because it so closely resembles what readers know about Crispín’s actual circumstances: the boy was dragged away by the powerful and ruthless chief sexton, presumably to be reprimanded by the even more powerful Father Salví. Because Basilio’s dream aligns with all of these details, it seems more of an extension of Crispín’s story than a fabrication, and readers get the sense that they are witnessing reality through Basilio’s sleeping mind. Furthermore, Sisa’s vision of Crispín near the fireplace also suggests that something serious has happened to the young boy.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Sisa wakes Basilio up and asks him why he’s crying. Basilio lies about his dream, not wanting to divulge his terrible visions. After several moments, he admits he no longer wants to be a sexton, instead proposing a new plan. The next day, he explains, he’ll go get Crispín from the parish house and visit Ibarra, who he’s heard has returned from Spain and who he thinks is probably a good man, given that he’s Don Rafael’s son. Basilio will ask Ibarra if he can work on his farmland, and Crispín can study with Old Tasio. “What more do we have to fear from the priest?” he asks. “Can he make us any poorer than we already are?” He tells Sisa that he has seen Tasio privately praying in church when nobody is around to see. Sisa agrees to this plan, and the boy falls asleep happy.
Basilio’s confidence in Ibarra and his negative perception of the priest illustrates that—if they’re able to see through the corruption of the church—disenfranchised Filipinos gravitate toward secular and wealthy individuals, since these people actually stand a chance of resisting priests and government officials. Indeed, Basilio puts his faith in the power of education as a means of liberation, urging his mother to send Crispín to learn from Tasio. Furthermore, the fact that Basilio has seen Tasio praying is important because it shows that the old man is, in fact, a religious person, despite his misgivings about the church. This means that Tasio finds fault not in religion itself but in the domineering way the priests go about imposing their supposedly spiritual authority.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon