Silence Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8 - 9 (pages 246-279)


The interpreter begs Rodrigues to apostatize. Rodrigues will not accept new teaching, and soon thereafter he is bound to a horse and paraded around Nagasaki. He is loudly derided by the townspeople. The interpreter tries to further convince Rodrigues to give up: Nagasaki was once full of churches and more than 200,000 Christians, many of whom still stand in the crowd that day, loudly denying their former faith.

The interpreter has to take Rodrigues to Inoue’s house. Once more, he begs him to confess – just a word – and be spared from torture. But Rodrigues refuses and the interpreter sadly continues bringing him toward his doom.

Rodrigues is left in a dark, dank cell with “Laudate Eum” carved into the wall. The night drags on as Rodrigues contemplates his impending death. Suddenly he hears a noise: Kichijiro is trying to get past the guards to talk to Rodrigues.

Kichijiro begs for forgiveness. Rodrigues does not want to, but he absolves Kichijiro quietly of his sins. Kichijiro leaves, and Rodrigues is once more alone, save for a loud snoring sound. He is upset to be being disturbed by this noise on his last night on earth.

When the interpreter checks in on him, Rodrigues says he is terribly annoyed by the loud snoring. The interpreter is shocked. Ferreria is with the interpreter, and he tells Rodrigues that those are not snores. They are the sounds of people being tortured in the pit. Ferreira also reveals that he carved the “Laudate Eum” into the wall, and spent three days in the pit himself before he apostatized. Ferreira says that he eventually apostatized because of the silence of God. In a final striking blow, Ferreira tells Rodrigues that Christ himself would have apostatized for the men in the pit.

The next morning Rodrigues is brought out to face the fumie. He thinks to Christ of how much he loved his face for his whole life. Suddenly, unexpectedly, he finally hears a revelation: the crudely carved Christ on the copper fumie tells him to trample: “It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world” (271). Rodrigues places his foot on the image.

Afterward, Rodrigues is confined to a house, and children call him Apostate Paul. He lives in Sotouromachi in Nagasaki. He knows that the Dutch in Nagasaki will have spread word of his apostasy back home and that he will have been expelled from the church. Sometimes Rodrigues is brought to Inoue and helps determine if objects found in raids are indeed Christian in origin. He and Ferreira sometimes see each other at the magistrate’s, but do not acknowledge each other and their shared shame.


The silence theme is part of Chapter 8 when Ferreira finally tells Rodrigues his own story of apostasy. After three days of suspension in the pit, he apostatized because he could not believe the level of suffering he was witnessing among the other captive Christians while God remained silent.

Ferreira’s similar interpretation of silence to Rodrigues clearly has an effect on the young priest, for he apostatizes the very next morning. “Prayer does nothing to alleviate suffering” (267), Ferreira says. This shows that he has come down on the side of sin existing not in a religious context but in a personal one, a debate that Rodrigues has struggled with throughout the novel.

“Certainly Christ would have apostatized for them,” Ferreira says to Rodrigues (268). This reminds Rodrigues that “a priest ought to live in imitation of Christ,” as Ferreira says. This interpretation of the bible affects Ferreira enough to urge his apostasy the next morning. The quote about Christ’s own behavior in a similar situation finally allows Rodrigues to reach a conclusion in his personal debate about the nature of sin.

The end of chapter 9 presents a striking simile about Rodrigues and Ferreira’s relationship, comparing them to ugly twins who cannot stand to look at each other because they each reflect the truth about themselves. This simile provides an apt comparison of the two men, whose fates have been so similar:

…in Ferreira he could find his own deep wound just as it was. It was unbearable for him to see his own ugly face in the mirror that was Ferreira – Ferreira sitting in front of him, clad in the same Japanese clothes, using the same Japanese language, and like himself expelled from the Church…They were just like two ugly twins…. They hated one another’s ugliness; they despised one another; but that’s what they were – two inseparable twins. (278-9.)