Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Just as Sisa is about to reach her house—hoping to find Crispín and Basilio safe inside—she sees two Civil Guard soldiers. They’re leaving her house empty-handed, having searched it for Crispín and Basilio. They call Sisa to them and ask where she’s stashing the money her son stole. “We’ve come to take your sons and the older one got away. Where have you hidden the younger one?” they ask. She tells them she hasn’t seen Crispín, saying “I was hoping to see him this morning at the parish house and when I was there they only told me that…” She trails off after seeing the soldiers exchange a look fraught with meaning. They then tell her they will leave her alone if she pays them the money they claim her family owes. When she’s unable to do so, they take her as a prisoner and set off toward town.
Rizal uses the soldiers’ meaningful glance at one another to insinuate that something ominous has happened to Crispín. Sisa has now been told by both the church and the Civil Guard that they don’t know where her child is. As such, readers yet again see how lowly townspeople easily slip between the cracks of San Diego’s dual forces of power. The fact that the last glimpse Rizal gives of Crispín is in the form of Basilio’s nightmare—in which Crispín seem to have been beaten to death—suggests that the boy has died and that neither the church nor the Civil Guard is going to acknowledge this death.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Sisa is ashamed as the soldiers march her through town for everybody to see. Ushered into the military barracks, she collapses on the ground, where she remains for several hours while the soldiers wait for further orders from the ensign, who seems to know nothing about the situation. When the ensign finally arrives, he quickly dismisses the accusations against Sisa and her boys, saying “Bah! This is what comes from a stingy friar!” before releasing Sisa.
Once more, the ensign and Father Salví’s rivalry comes to the forefront of the novel, this time centering around the church’s greedy ways, as the ensign accuses Salví of punishing innocent young sextons simply because he wants more money.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
For the rest of the day, Sisa wanders from place to place, helplessly looking for her children. She shouts their names over and over again until the sun goes down, leaving her to make her way through the darkness. “Perhaps pale human resistance cannot cope with such sufferings,” Rizal writes, “and Mother Providence intervened with a sweet leniency, forgetfulness.” Distraught, Sisa slips into dissociation and lunacy.
When Sisa goes crazy with grief, Rizal reveals the emotional and psychological pressure that oppressive colonizers—whether religious or governmental—put on a country’s native citizens. With both the Civil Guard and the church refusing to help her (and even actively working against her), Sisa has nothing to turn to and, thus, estranges herself completely from her unfortunate circumstances by dissociating.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon