Doña Consolación watches happily as the imprisoned rebels are tortured in the courthouse, where the ensign, the mayor, and Father Salví make up the court. Tarsilo is questioned and states that he never communicated directly with Ibarra, and that he took part in the rebellion to avenge his father’s death. Despite brutal beatings, he refuses to change his story, and he is eventually drowned in a well by the ensign.
The ensign then marches the prisoners, including Ibarra, through the town, where people insult them and call them heretics. Tasio watches the scene from a hill, then turns to go back home, but he is found dead the next day on the threshold of his home.
Throughout the country, friars discuss Ibarra’s uprising and praise Father Salví for stopping it. Meanwhile, members of the upper class realize they must distance themselves from Captain Tiago because of his connection to Ibarra, and even the Captain General severs his ties with Ibarra.
Captain Tiago, however, is treated better than one might expect: he is not investigated closely, as others are, and he is permitted to stay in his home. The de Espadañas return, and they discuss María Clara’s marriage to Linares. Tiago hosts a party, and the ensign brags about his role in crushing the rebellion, announcing that he’s been promoted. Father Salví, for his part, is leaving San Diego. Lieutenant Guevara alone stands up for Ibarra, saying that he trusted the wrong people and staring at Father Salví, which shocks María Clara. Guevara also says that Ibarra’s defense attorney told him there was little real evidence against him except for a few ambiguous lines in a letter he wrote years ago. He states that the claims that Ibarra was the leader of the rebels are questionable, since the same rebel who said that also admitted that Lucas was the only one with whom he directly interacted. In fact, Guevara points out, Lucas is an old enemy of Ibarra, so it’s likely Ibarra was framed. Someone asks how the prosecutors found the letter incriminating Ibarra, and Guevara again stares at Father Salví. Yet as he leaves, Guevara whispers to María Clara, revealing that he knows that she gave the court the letter. María Clara is filled with remorse and calls out for her dead mother.
As the party ends, María Clara goes out on her balcony, where she spots Ibarra climbing up to see her. Elías has freed him from prison, and he is coming to say goodbye to her. María Clara expresses her deep remorse for sharing the letter, explaining that the name of her real father was revealed to her while she was sick, and that she was forbidden to love Ibarra “unless my real father would forgive the injury you have done to him.” Though María Clara does not outright state who her father is, the reader can understand that it must be Father Dámaso, since he is the only person Ibarra has actually injured throughout the novel. (This information explains why Father Dámaso is so concerned with meddling with María Clara and Ibarra’s planned marriage: he doesn’t want his daughter to end up with the son of his old enemy, Rafael Ibarra.) María Clara explains that the person who told her about her real father threatened to reveal this information publicly if she didn’t give him Ibarra’s letter, and she didn’t want to disgrace her father or her dead mother by making her true parentage public. She knew the man was telling the truth because he was able to show her letters between her mother and Father Dámaso. Ibarra forgives María Clara for giving away the letter and departs.
The seeds that link Lucas and the chief sexton further confirm that Father Salví is behind the attack. Lucas is likely killed because Father Salví doesn’t want him to expose this reality, which further highlights the endless corruption of Father Salví as a representative of the church--he is willing to kill his own allies to protect himself. Társilo’s fate further shows the futility of revenge—his attempt to avenge his father’s death ends with him being killed as well, without any real justice being done. In contrast, Ibarra’s vow to create the school in his father’s memory is a much better way of doing justice to the memory of his father than Társilo’s vengeful strategy.
The aftermath of Ibarra’s supposed attack shows how fickle and shallow social connections are in the community. Those who were once devoted to Ibarra eagerly abandon him to protect themselves—even Captain Tiago, who celebrated Ibarra at the beginning of the novel, betrays him. The Captain General also distances himself from Ibarra despite being the most powerful person in the novel, showing that he is too cowardly to risk taking a principled stance.