For the next three days, the town prepares for the fiesta. María Clara arrives with Aunt Isabel, and the townspeople notice a profound difference in Father Salví, who seems distracted during his sermons and becomes thinner. Even more notably, he stays out late at night while visiting María Clara’s house. As for Ibarra, nobody knows why he’s absent, and some speculate that he has been imprisoned for having forced Father Salví to his knees on All Saints’ Day. These suspicions are dispelled, though, when he arrives in front of María Clara’s house in San Diego and warmly greets Father Salví, who is also on his way to pay the young woman a visit.
The fact that Father Salví spends his time staying out late at night to visit with María Clara—along with his distracted demeanor and neglected physical appearance—implies that the priest lusts after the young woman. This, of course, reflects poorly on his character, since as a friar he isn’t in a position to court a woman. As such, Rizal casts him as a suspicious figure who hides behind his religious title without actually aspiring toward true piety.
In an intimate conversation, Ibarra and María Clara plan an outing with friends the next day. María Clara pleads with Ibarra to not let Father Salví come, because he’s always watching her with “sad, sunken eyes” that unnerve her. “He once asked me if I had dreamed about letters from my mother,” she says. “I think he’s half crazy.” Ibarra says that, because of the town’s customs, it is impossible to not invite Father Salví. However, he decides the party will be organized around a boat trip that will leave early in the morning, so that Father Salví will have to decline in order to fulfill his priestly duties in the first half of the day. This plan works, though Salví is so disappointed to miss out on spending time with María Clara that he promises to meet up with them later in the day, after they’ve finished their boating.
Ibarra’s plan to exclude Father Salví from the boat trip without obviously insulting the priest is in keeping with his ideas about educational reform in San Diego—in both cases, he believes there are ways to work within the prevailing system to change daily life for the better. What he underestimates, though, is the intensity of Father Salví’s desire to see María Clara, and his wise plan doesn’t take into account the fact that the priest will do everything in his power to get what he wants. On another note, moving forward, it will be important to remember Father Salví’s question about María Clara’s mother’s letters—once again, Rizal alludes to a subplot without giving any context.
As Ibarra leaves María Clara’s house that evening, a stranger comes upon him in the street and tells him he’s been waiting to speak with him. He explains that nobody will help him because everybody thinks he’s a thief, but he has recently lost both his sons and his wife has gone crazy. He implores Ibarra to “have pity” on him and his family, and though Ibarra says he doesn’t have much time, he invites the man to walk with him and tell him what has happened.
Judging by this man’s story, which involves two missing boys and a wife who’s gone crazy, he is Sisa’s husband. The fact that he asks for Ibarra’s help indicates the power and influence the villagers attribute to Ibarra—though this popularity may sometimes work in Ibarra’s favor, it’s worth remembering that his father’s fame and popularity invited trouble, as many detractors emerged when he was imprisoned.