Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Summary and Analysis of Chapters 29-32


It’s the last day of the festival, and Don Filipo and Tasio lament how wasteful it is. Tasio urges Filipo to resign as deputy mayor since the mayor is too heavily controlled by Father Salví. Meanwhile, a young woman with a baby walks by, and the baby calls out to Father Salví, calling him “Papa.” Salví blushes, and the narrator states that the people, who snicker at the scene, are mistaken.

Father Dámaso delivers a sermon, beginning in Latin before transitioning to Spanish. In the sermon, he insults both the ensign and the Civil Guard. The sermon is boring, and people begin to yawn. He then switches to Tagalog, but he speaks the language so poorly that no one can understand him. Father Dámaso also emphasizes the importance of “indios” respecting priests and the church. During the service, Elías approaches Ibarra and warns him not to go near the cornerstone later.

Everyone goes towards the school, where Father Salví is supposed to deliver a sermon blessing it. The yellow man, who is unnamed, has created an intricate system to lower a time capsule into the building to remember the occasion. After Father Salví’s blessing, the Captain General—the highest official in the area—speaks briefly. Father Salví appears nervous and encourages Ibarra to go down into the trench to bury the time capsule, as does the mayor. Ibarra does, but keeps an eye on Elías and the yellow man, who has his hand on the lever that will lower the stone. Suddenly, there’s a crash—the stone has fallen, killing the yellow man. Ibarra, on the other hand, escapes unharmed. The onlookers are glad Ibarra has survived, saying that the yellow man was “only an indio” and that he didn’t attend the church service.


It’s strange that the narrator directly states that the people are mistaken in thinking Father Salví is the baby’s father, since he does appear embarrassed. It’s possible that Father Salví does not have a relationship with this woman, but nonetheless has a guilty conscience. This scene, combined with the hints that Father Salví lusts after María Clara, establishes him as a deeply flawed figure who falls far short of the ideal of a priest.

Father Dámaso’s emphasis on the importance of Filipinos respecting church figures like himself is hypocritical given that he doesn’t even have enough respect for them to learn their language well enough to preach in it even after decades of living among them. This hypocrisy ends up hurting Father Dámaso himself as well as his flock—he can’t convey the message he wants to because no one understands him.

The debt Elías owes to Ibarra pays off, at least in the short run, when Elías warns him about the upcoming danger. Though his affiliation with Elías could seriously hurt his reputation, Ibarra also benefits from it.

Throughout the scene in front of the school, there are hints that Father Salví is involved in the plot against Ibarra—he glances at the hanging stone several times and tries to convince Ibarra to go down in the trench, putting him in danger. It’s ironic, then, that the community attributes Ibarra’s survival to the fact that he attended the church service, since the church employs the very figure who tried to kill him. The scene also demonstrates the profound and at times puzzling racism and racial dynamics of the area. The death of the nameless yellow man is dismissed because he was an indigenous Filipino (derisively referred to as an “indio”), but Ibarra too has indigenous Filipino heritage.