Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

An outlaw and vagabond revolutionary who resents the power the Catholic church and Spanish government have over the Philippines. After Ibarra saves his life from a vicious crocodile, Elías swears to protect the young man from his enemies, which are legion. Lurking in the town in the disguise of a day laborer, Elías discovers plots against Ibarra and does everything he can to thwart them. He also tries to convince Ibarra to join him and a band of disenchanted revolutionaries who want to retaliate against the abusive Civil Guard that empowers the church and oppresses the people it claims to govern. He and Ibarra engage in long political discussions throughout the novel, each character outlining a different viewpoint regarding the nature of national growth and reform. Elías urges his friend to see that nothing productive will come of working within the existing power structures, since the church and government are both so corrupt and apathetic when it comes to actually improving the Philippines. Ibarra is more conservative and doesn’t agree with Elías’s drastic opinions until he himself experiences persecution at the hands of the country’s most powerful institutions, at which point he agrees with his friend and accepts his fate as a committed subversive revolutionary.

Elías Quotes in Noli Me Tangere

The Noli Me Tangere quotes below are all either spoken by Elías or refer to Elías. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Noli Me Tangere published in 2006.
Chapter 31 Quotes

“Believing in chance is the same as believing in miracles. Both situations presuppose that God does not know the future. What is chance? An event no one has foreseen. What is a miracle? A contradiction, an undermining of natural laws. Lack of foresight and contradiction in the intelligence that governs the world machine means two great imperfections.”

“Who are you?” Ibarra asked him with a certain anxiety. “Are you a scholar?”

“I have had to believe a great deal in God because I have lost my belief in men,” the boatman answered, evading the question.

Ibarra thought he understood this fugitive young man. He rejected man’s justice, refused the right of man to judge his peers, protested against the force and superiority of certain classes over others.

Related Characters: Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (Ibarra) (speaker), Elías (speaker), The Yellow Man
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 45 Quotes

A man who, like me, has spent his youth and maturity working for his own future and for that of his children, a man who has been at the beck and call of his superiors, who has carried out difficult tasks conscientiously, who has suffered his whole life in peace and in the possibility of tranquility, when this man, whose blood has been made cold by time, renounces at the brink of the grave his entire past and his entire future, it’s because he’s made the mature judgment that peacefulness neither exists nor is the supreme good. Why would I live out such miserable days in a foreign land? I had two sons and one daughter, a home, a fortune. I benefited from respect and esteem. But now I’m like a tree shorn of its limbs, a wandering fugitive, hunted like a wild animal in the forest, and everything that goes along with it. And why? Because a man undid my daughter, because her brothers demanded this man make restitution, and because the man’s station was above everyone else’s, with the title of God’s minister.

Related Characters: Captain Pablo (speaker), Elías
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 49 Quotes

It’s a poor doctor, señor, who only seeks to treat the symptoms and choke them off without attempting to root out the cause of that malady, or when he learns what it is, is afraid of attacking it. The Civil Guard has no more objective than the suppression of crime by terror and force, an objective met or accomplished only by chance. And one must bear in mind that society can only be harsh with individuals when it has furnished the means necessary for their moral perfectibility. In our country, since there is no society, since the people and the government do not form a unified structure, the latter must be more lenient, not only because more leniency is needed, but because the individual, neglected and abandoned by the state, has less responsibility when he has been afforded less enlightenment.

Related Characters: Elías (speaker), Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (Ibarra)
Page Number: 320
Explanation and Analysis:
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Perhaps they need [the Civil Guard] more in Spain, but not in the Philippines. Our customs, our mode of being, which they are always invoking when they want to deny us our rights, they forget completely when there is something they want to impose on us.

Related Characters: Elías (speaker), Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (Ibarra)
Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 61 Quotes

You’re right, Elías, but man is a creature of circumstance. I was blind then, disgusted, what did I know! Now misfortune has ripped off my blinders. Solitude and the misery of prison have shown me. Now I see the horrible cancer gnawing at this society, rotting its flesh, almost begging for a violent extirpation. They opened my eyes, they made me see the sores and forced me to become a criminal! And so, just what they wanted, I will be a subversive, but a true subversive. I will call together all the downtrodden people, everyone who feels a heart beating in his breast, those who sent you to me…No, I won’t be a criminal, you aren’t a criminal when you fight for your country, just the opposite!

Related Characters: Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (Ibarra) (speaker), Elías
Page Number: 400
Explanation and Analysis:
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Elías Character Timeline in Noli Me Tangere

The timeline below shows where the character Elías appears in Noli Me Tangere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 24: In The Forest
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
...this offense, and Salví tells him that the suspect in question is a man named Elías, a criminal and bandit notorious for having thrown the ensign himself into a lake. At... (full context)
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...sergeant then emerges and demands that the group of dinner guests hand over the criminal Elías, who they tell Ibarra is the same boatman he saved earlier that day. Because the... (full context)
Chapter 25: At the Philosopher’s House
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Tasio tells Ibarra that he heard about his encounter with Elías—the boatman—from “the Muse of the Civil Guard,” his term for the ensign’s wife, Doña Consolación,... (full context)
Chapter 31: The Sermon
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While the church sings religious incantations, Elías approaches Ibarra and whispers, “During the benediction ceremony, don’t get too far from the priest,... (full context)
Chapter 32: The Crane
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Ibarra goes down into the trench, eyeing Elías and the yellow man. Meanwhile, Elías watches the yellow man’s hand, which is placed on... (full context)
Chapter 33: Freedom of Thought
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Later that day, Elías visits Ibarra and informs him that he has enemies. Elías emphasizes that it’s important that... (full context)
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Impressed by Elías’ diction and his ideas, Ibarra asks who he is, wondering if he’s a scholar. “I... (full context)
Chapter 40: Right and Might
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Revolution and Reform Theme Icon
...Don Filipo begs Ibarra to help him dissuade the masses from this violent idea. Seeing Elías in the crowd, Ibarra asks if there’s anything he can do, and Elías bounds into... (full context)
Chapter 41: Two Visitors
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Late that night, Elías visits Ibarra, who is unable to sleep and is therefore awake and doing experiments in... (full context)
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After Elías departs, Ibarra goes out into the street. He comes upon a man named Lucas with... (full context)
Chapter 45: The Persecuted
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In a cave set deep in the forest, Elías meets with a haggard old man named Captain Pablo. Pablo has with him a band... (full context)
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Captain Pablo refuses Elías’s offer, saying that he is like a “tree shorn of its limbs,” destined to be... (full context)
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Elías tries to dissuade Pablo from launching a rebellion by telling him about Ibarra, whom he... (full context)
Chapter 46: The Cockpit
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...two brothers whose father died at the hands of the Civil Guard—the ones who helped Elías stop the riot at the theater—visit the gambling house, where the townspeople bet on cockfights.... (full context)
Chapter 48: An Enigma
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...where construction continues to thrive at a good pace. There, among the workers, he spots Elías, who tells him to meet him by the lakeside to discuss several important matters. (full context)
Chapter 49: Voice of the Persecuted
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Taking Ibarra out in his boat, Elías explains the plight of Captain Pablo and his followers. This turns into a discussion about... (full context)
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Ibarra and Elías’s political conversation continues. Elías succeeds somewhat in convincing Ibarra, but not completely. Rather, Ibarra decides... (full context)
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Ibarra sees Elías’s frustration, acknowledging his friend’s “suffering” and utter discontent. Elías says that his misgivings about the... (full context)
Chapter 50: Elías’s Family
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Elías tells Ibarra that sixty years ago his (Elías’s) grandfather worked for a Spanish merchant in... (full context)
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Elías continues his story. Before long, he says, Manila authorities smell his grandfather’s decomposing body and... (full context)
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The young boy in Elías’s story runs away from his dead mother and brother, finally reaching a town where nobody... (full context)
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One day Elías insults a distant relative, who retaliates by revealing the truth about his family history. In... (full context)
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Having heard his friend’s story, Ibarra says he understands why Elías feels the way he does about corruption and criminality. But he also challenges Elías’s notion... (full context)
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After Ibarra gets off the boat, Elías rows to a different beach, where he meets one of Captain Pablo’s men. “What should... (full context)
Chapter 52: The Card of the Dead and the Shadows
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
...don’t recognize one another, Rizal identifies the first figure as Lucas and the second as Elías. Elías loses the game and leaves. (full context)
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...the dark and rainy streets, talking with one another to pass the time. “They say Elías is in town,” one remarks. “The ensign says the one who grabs him will get... (full context)
Chapter 54: Quid Quid Latet
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Meanwhile, Elías runs to Ibarra’s house and warns him about the coming attack. He tells him that... (full context)
Chapter 55: Catastrophe
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After leaving Ibarra’s house in a fit, Elías ran to the forests and mountains, delirious and enraged. He saw visions of his grandfather... (full context)
Chapter 56: What is Said and What is Believed
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...Linares. Elsewhere, Lucas’s body is found hanging from an apple tree. Disguised as a peasant, Elías inspects Lucas’s body and sees the seeds of a certain kind of tree stuck to... (full context)
Chapter 60: María Clara Weds
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...A man emerges and climbs up the patio, and she sees that it is Ibarra. Elías has freed him from prison and now he’s come to say goodbye. Before he leaves,... (full context)
Chapter 61: Pursuit on the Lake
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As Elías rows Ibarra to safety after stopping at María Clara’s house, he suggests a plan: he... (full context)
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As they row on the lake, Elías points out that Ibarra’s newfound will to fight contrasts his earlier reluctance to support revolution.... (full context)
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As Ibarra and Elías debate, a boat of Civil Guard members starts chasing them. Ibarra ducks beneath bales of... (full context)