Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Summary and Analysis of Chapters 53-56


Don Filipo, the former deputy mayor, speaks with Tasio, who is seriously ill. Tasio criticizes Don Filipo for resigning from his position, saying that he should hold on to any authority he has, but Don Filipo points out that the mayor is corrupt, explaining that he freed Civil Guard members who Don Filipo imprisoned for starting the theater riot.

Father Salví rushes to the ensign’s house, claiming that the town is in serious danger. He says he’s discovered a conspiracy through a woman who came to confession and told him that a group of rebels are planning to attack and kill all the Spaniards in the town. Since this was told to him in confession, he cannot reveal the identity of the woman or how she knows about the conspiracy. He tells to ensign to quietly prepare the soldiers and pretend not to be aware of the upcoming attack. Father Salví asks that the ensign let others know that he was the one who discovered the plot, hoping to rise in the church’s ranks as a result. Meanwhile, Elías rushes to tell Ibarra about the upcoming attack and the conspiracy against him. The two prepare to flee the town, but as they gather Ibarra’s things, Elías finds a piece of paper with the name of the man who had accused his grandfather of setting the warehouse on fire, beginning his family’s misfortune. Ibarra explains that this man was his great-grandfather. Enraged, Elías almost attacks Ibarra, but suddenly comes to his senses.

Father Salví is back at Captain Tiago’s house, where María Clara and Sinang discuss his constant presence there. Ibarra arrives as chaos breaks out outside. He runs out towards the barracks, where the rebels are captured. The ensign declares that no one will be permitted to leave town that night, and Ibarra rushes home to burn his belongings, fearing they could be used against him, but before he can do so, guards arrest him. Meanwhile, Elías sees visions of his dead grandfather and sister, but comes out of his fantasy just in time to rush back to Ibarra’s house and destroy his belongings. Soldiers arrive to confiscate Ibarra’s belongings, but the house catches on fire and Elías escapes out a window.

As rumors fly through the town, the villagers eventually learn that Don Filipo and Ibarra have been imprisoned. Bruno, manipulated by Lucas, has confessed that Ibarra organized the rebellion. Lucas’s corpse is found hanging from a tree, and disguising himself as a peasant, Elías finds a distinctive set of seeds on Lucas’s body—seeds that he realizes are stuck to the chief sexton’s shirt as well.


At this point, it’s clear that Father Salví is indeed behind the plot against Ibarra, having made up the woman telling him about Ibarra’s supposed conspiracy and relying on his privileges as a priest to make the story sound legitimate. He also uses the supposed plot to inflate his own importance, declaring that “you’ll again see how important clerics are,” a reference to when he supposedly stopped the riot earlier in the novel, which was also a fabrication. In this manner, Father Salví exposes himself as a fraud only concerned with his own career and power, in addition to a malevolent schemer.

Elías’s dedication to keeping his word to protect Ibarra, despite the revelation that Ibarra descends from the very man that ruined Elías’s life and those of his family members, is commendable. Rizal thus portrays loyalty as deeply complicated and at times difficult, but nonetheless admirable. Elías’s actions also illustrate that he understands the futility of revenge, which the novel has shown often ends up hurting people caught in the middle of conflict—for example, the neverending fight for power between Father Salví and the ensign ends up with Sisa’s son shot for being out past the curfew. In the context of a revolutionary movement, this concept suggests that Filipino activists should be concerned with justice, but not with revenge for what the Spanish have done to them.