The festival finally over, Captain Tiago invites Doctor de Espadaña and his wife, Doña Victorina, to stay with them while the doctor treats María Clara, who is still ill. Doña Victorina is a Filipina social climber whom Captain Tiago used to love. She never accepted his advances, though, because she wanted to marry a Spaniard. Because of this, she aged past her prime before finally marrying Don Tiburcio de Espadaña, a Spaniard who arrived in the Philippines as a customs officer but was promptly dismissed. Don Tiburcio saw how badly Victorina wanted a Spanish husband and proposed to her to secure financial support. Once married, she encouraged him to pretend he was a doctor. He now sees very wealthy patients to give the impression that he is in high demand.
Once again, social relations come to the forefront of the novel. It seems that characters like Doña Victorina (and, for that matter, Captain Tiago) are desperately afraid of isolation, unlike people like Tasio, who embrace estrangement because of the intellectual freedom it affords them. Indeed, the de Espadañas are so obsessed with appearances that Don Tiburcio not only pretends to be a doctor, but pretends to be a doctor in high demand. As such, the couple cultivates an image of themselves as greatly sought after, and this image solidifies their sense of belonging in Filipino high society.
With the de Espadañas is Don Tiburcio’s Spanish nephew, Linares, whom Victorina has convinced to travel to the Philippines in order to escort her to Spain. This trip never takes place, though, and Linares remains with the couple. At lunch, Linares asks after Father Dámaso and learns from Father Salví that the priest will be stopping by that afternoon. As Doña Victorina eagerly introduces María Clara to her nephew, Father Dámaso enters the room.
The de Espadañas—including Linares—immediately associate themselves with the church by asking after Father Dámaso. This is because they recognize that power in San Diego flows through the friars. In this way, they affiliate themselves with the town’s most influential figures.