Lazaro settles down with the second constable (different from the first constable who helped the pardoner sell indulgences), but the job is dangerous. One night, not long after Lazaro entered his service, the constable is getting beaten-up by a band of fugitives and Lazaro decides to abandon him. Lazaro’s goal becomes to find a job working in government because he believes that nobody in those positions faces real obstacles.
This brief anecdote reveals Lazaro’s cowardice and his lack of a sense of moral duty or loyalty. In contrast to the compassion he showed the squire in chapter three, here he seems to be interested in nothing more than his own well-being and self-interest. His interest in a government job, when considered in relation to the corruption of every government figure Lazaro has met up to this point, seem to confirm that he more and more prizes financial security above doing what he believes is right.
Lazaro finds work as a town crier in Toledo. His job is to advertise the local wines and announce the news, crimes, and lost property. One day Lazaro is helping to hang a petty thief in the town square and he notices that the rope being used to hang the thief is of high quality. The sight of the rope reminds him of what the blind man had said about the ropes in the shoemaker’s shop in Escalona, and the memory makes Lazaro regret how badly he hurt the blind man after everything the blind man had taught him.
Lazaro’s sudden recollection of the blind man serves as a moment of reflection for him, in which the dramatic change he has undergone since the beginning of the book becomes clear. Lazaro’s complicity in the hanging of the petty thief is worth noting, not just because even the dastardly old blind man of Lazaro’s past so clearly felt that the practice of hanging was morally repugnant, but because Lazaro’s father and stepfather were both thieves who were punished for providing for their families.
One day the archpriest of San Salvador takes notice of Lazaro for his skill in selling the archpriest’s wines, and he arranges for Lazaro to marry one of the maids in his service. Lazaro, thinking it would be beneficial to associate himself with the archpriest, agrees and is married to the archpriest’s maid. Lazaro describes his wife as a good and dutiful woman, and he is thankful because the archpriest continues to supply Lazaro and his wife with occasional gifts of wheat and bread and old stockings. The archpriest even rents Lazaro and his wife a small house next to his and invites them for meals on Sundays.
It is clear from Lazaro’s description of the process of becoming engaged to the archpriest’s maid that he sees his marriage as an economical and practical relationship rather than a romantic one. Growing up in such a cruel and hypocritical society seems to have robbed him of the ability to think beyond his financial security. Why the archpriest is so generous with Lazaro and his wife is a question Lazaro does not seem concerned with trying to answer.
However, Lazaro’s marriage is plagued by rumors that his wife is the archpriest’s mistress. Lazaro tries to ignore the rumors, but sometimes his wife stays late in the archpriest’s chambers, causing Lazaro suspicion. As a result, Lazaro is often haunted by what the blind man said to him long ago in Escalona about the horns on the wall of the inn.
The truth of the blind man’s prophetic words stands in contrast to the naivety that is often associated with blindness. By the end of the book, the blind man is shown to have been a source of great insight for Lazaro, proving again the book’s maxim that nothing is merely as it seems, and often things thought to be one way prove to be just the opposite.
One day the archpriest tells Lazaro he would do well to ignore the rumors, assuring him that his honor and the honor of his wife are intact. Lazaro responds by alluding to a rumor that his wife had given birth to three children before Lazaro had married her, but this only causes his wife to weep and curse so profusely that Lazaro vows never to speak of the rumors again. To soothe his wife, Lazaro has to declare that he is convinced of her virtue, and he permits her to visit the archpriest as she pleases, night and day. From that day forward, whenever Lazaro hears any rumor of his wife’s infidelity, he responds by saying that he doesn’t want to hear about it, and that anyone who repeats such lies is his mortal enemy. This way, he keeps peace in his life.
The fact that Lazaro is cuckolded by a religious figure of such high office is another detail that would have been seen as highly sacrilegious at the time of the book’s publication, since archpriests are moral figureheads of the church and were expected to remain celibate. In this final passage of the book, Lazaro has transformed completely into one of the characters that so perplexed him in his youth—people without a sense of morality who knowingly entangle themselves a web of lies to their own detriment and dishonor.
Lazaro concludes by noting that this all took place in the same year that the emperor took up residency in Toledo, and that Lazaro had found prosperity and the height of good fortune. He promises to keep his reader, who he again addresses as “Your Excellency,” informed of whatever happens to him next.
In this passage it becomes evident that the matter Lazaro mentions in the preface is his arrangement with the archpriest regarding his wife. It remains unclear why the person to whom the letter is addressed may have inquired into the matter, though it is possible that the archpriest is in danger of punishment for keeping a mistress. It is ironic that Lazaro feels that he has come into prosperity and is living at the height of good fortune in light of his moral depravity, his lowly economic standing, and his tarnished reputation as a cuckold.