Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While the town celebrates, the ensign’s house remains dark. Inside, Doña Consolación sleeps in an armchair in unbecoming clothing. That morning, the ensign didn’t allow her to go to church because she dresses “ridiculously” and because he didn’t want to be seen with her. She, on the other hand, thinks she is more beautiful than even María Clara. Throughout the day, she grows steadily angrier as she remains pent up in the house, ordering the servants to close the windows so she can’t hear the festivities.
Rizal’s attention to Doña Consolación reinforces his interest in isolated characters. Consolación is a perfect example of the kind of disempowered person Rizal is interested in exploring—oppressed by even her own husband, she further cuts herself off from the world, a choice Rizal suggests leads only to anger and resentment.
Themes
Isolation Theme Icon
After being arrested by the Civil Guard for touching the town’s leper, Sisa was transported to the military barracks, where she now sings sad songs that Doña Consolación hears. “Get her up here immediately!” the ensign’s wife orders her servants. When the madwoman arrives, Doña Consolación uses poor Tagalog to order Sisa to sing. This is a habit of hers—to appear more cultured, she pretends to not know her own native language, Tagalog. As such, she is pleased when Sisa doesn’t understand her demand. She asks a servant in Spanish to translate her request into actual Tagalog. Sisa starts singing a song about vanity, though, and Doña Consolación can’t stand to hear the words, erupting in perfect Tagalog: “No, don’t sing!”
The nature of Consolación’s isolation is unique because it manifests itself in two ways. First of all, she is a Filipina married to a Spaniard who is ashamed of her, so she’s unable to connect with even her own husband. But she also further isolates herself by estranging herself from her fellow native Filipinos by pretending to have forgotten Tagalog. In this way, she strands herself between Spanish culture and Filipino culture, rendering it impossible to relate to anybody at all.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Embarrassed by having revealed herself as fluent in Tagalog, Doña Consolación orders Sisa to dance, calling the poor madwoman an “indio whore” and whipping her feet. She draws more and more blood from Sisa, taking a wicked pleasure in the deranged spectacle until the ensign comes in and puts his hand on the dancing woman’s shoulder, allowing her to stop. He tells his servants to take Sisa away and to care for her wounds, for before this incident he had actually been treating her kindly, making sure she was well-fed and warm. When Sisa leaves, the couple starts fighting, shaking the entire house with their blows. Finally, Doña Consolación retreats into the bedroom and locks the door. To lure her out, the ensign pretends to leave but sneaks back inside. When Consolación asks the servants if he’s actually gone out, they tell her he has, and the fighting continues.
Consolación’s mistreatment of Sisa stems from her own insecurities. She recognizes that Sisa is—much like herself—a Filipina woman isolated from the community. It makes sense, then, that she beats Sisa because she resents this recognition. In other words, rather than showing Sisa compassion and camaraderie as a fellow estranged woman, she tries to assert herself over the poor woman. Of course, abusing a disempowered person is no way to gain power, and Consolación only ends up further isolating herself, since she’s apparently unable to connect even with somebody who occupies a similar societal position as her.
Themes
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon