In a cave set deep in the forest, Elías meets with a haggard old man named Captain Pablo. Pablo has with him a band of armed men with dirt on their skin and torn clothing. Elías is sorry to see that this friend of his is living in such unfortunate circumstances and tells him that he’s planning to travel north to live “among the free, pagan tribes.” He invites Pablo to come along. “I’ll be your son, since you’ve lost your own, and I, who have no family, will find a father in you.”
Until this scene, Rizal has not mentioned Elías’s affiliation with Captain Pablo. Nonetheless, it’s unsurprising that Elías would have relations with a set of men who are clearly living at the fringes of Filipino society. Indeed, Pablo’s group of bandits have clearly been isolated from their communities, a fact that surely resonates with Elías, who is himself unwelcome in places like San Diego.
Captain Pablo refuses Elías’s offer, saying that he is like a “tree shorn of its limbs,” destined to be a fugitive. He briefly recounts his story, saying that a minister raped his daughter. Because the minister feared that Pablo’s two sons would take revenge, he framed one of them as a robber and tortured him to death. The other son was arrested by the Civil Guard for not carrying identity papers and treated so badly that he committed suicide. Now, Pablo explains, he has assembled a number of similarly disempowered and abused citizens who are seeking revenge. Elías points out that the rebellion Pablo proposes will have adverse effects on innocent townspeople, since the church and government will respond by harming their own citizens.
For perhaps the first time in the novel, the focus truly centers around the nature of revolution and reform. Elías’s point of view shows his compassion and his understanding that the current state of Filipino politics and social relations is too volatile to simply overthrow using violence, which will certainly lead to unfortunate citizen casualties. His realistic outlook is important to remember as the novel progresses, as it shows an understanding that—as Tasio has already made clear—revenge for revenge’s sake leads only to more despair.
Elías tries to dissuade Pablo from launching a rebellion by telling him about Ibarra, whom he thinks he can convince to represent the disaffected people that the current systems of power have treated so poorly. He suggests that perhaps Ibarra can speak with the Captain General about these difficult matters. Although Pablo appears unconvinced, Elías persuades him to at least refrain from launching a bloody campaign until Ibarra has heard their case. He tells him to send somebody to the beach in San Diego in four days to learn whether or not Ibarra has agreed to help.
By convincing Pablo to let him try to convince Ibarra to represent the disenchanted bandits, Elías further establishes the notion that any revolutionary measures must be diplomatic. Rather than using brute force to take revenge upon the country’s structures of power, Elías understands that violent rebellion will only be effective if it is tempered with levelheaded negotiation.