The next morning, while the town whispers about having seen shadows in the cemetery the night before, Don Filipo speaks with Tasio, who has fallen gravely ill. Tasio criticizes him for having tendered his resignation to the mayor, saying that now that the young man is fighting against the Civil Guard, it’s unwise to relinquish whatever authoritative power he might have. Filipo points out that the mayor is still corrupt, though, as evidenced by the fact that he freed a handful of Civil Guard members whom he—Filipo—had imprisoned for having started the riot in the theater. Tasio encourages him to reframe his ideas, saying that the primary fight is not against the mayor but against the abuse of power. The two then debate the nature of progress, about which Tasio says, “One can be progressive in three ways: forward, to the side, and backward.”
Tasio’s idea that “one can be progressive in three ways” relates to Elías and Ibarra’s differing views about revolution and reform. Elías’s wish to start anew can be thought of as “forward,” since he wants to launch the country into completely new modes of governance. Ibarra’s desire to reform the current system from within its own context, on the other hand, represents a lateral approach to progress, one that is less likely to bring about actual change but still proposes alternate or new ideas. Finally, the rule of the friarocracy represents “backward” progress, since the church seeks to negate governmental influence, thereby trying to rule the country with religion, as was the practice in ancient times.