Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal, Chp. 33 “Freedom of Thought”

This chapter is very similar to Chp. 25 (link to blog for Chp.25). We have a one-on-one dialogue between Ibarra and another person: Elias, a young man who gives off an intimidating aura. He seems intimidating because his identity is unknown and his words are foreboding. Elias basically talks about his faith in God–a manifestation of faith that is very different from the kind of faith and veneration to God which we have seen from all the other characters in the book. All the other townspeople seem to follow religion blindly (read Chp. 31-32 where Rizal ridicules the institution of the Church and the people who go through the motions of its rituals). This chapter is in stark contrast to other chapters because we see a man (Elias) explain his faith with reasons that do not sound trivial.

  • p. 220

    “…in life it’s not criminals who provoke great hatred, it’s honest men.”

  • p. 220

    “God has judged him, God has killed him, God is the only judge!”

  • p. 220 – 221

    “If you believe in miracles, you wouldn’t believe in God…When a man condemns others to death or destroys their future, he does it in a cowardly way. He uses the power of other men to carry out his sentences, which, in the end, might be mistaken or erroneous. But I exposed this criminal to the same danger he had prepared for others, and shared the same risks. I didn’t kill him. I let the hand of God kill him.”

    Elias told Ibarra that he had held the criminal in place when the criminal wanted to get away. Both Elias and the criminal could have died but Elias says that God is just and killed the other man.

  • p. 221 Ibarra asks Elias if he believes in chance. Elias responds,

    “Believing in chance is the same as believing in miracles. Both situations presuppose that God does not know the future. What is chance? An event no one has foreseen. What is a miracle? A contradiction in the intelligence that governs the world machine means two great imperfections.”

  • p. 221 Elias insists on being anonymous after Ibarra asks him if he is a scholar.

    “I have had to believe a great deal in God because I have lost my belief in men.”

    This stud is growing sexier by the page.

  • p. 221 Ibarra questions Elias’s logic

    “But you have to admit the necessity of human justice, as imperfect as it is. God, as many ministers as he has on earth, cannot, or rather, does not tell us clearly his judgment to reconcile the millions of disagreements that underlie our passions. It is useful, it is necessary, it is just that man sometimes judges his peers!”

  • p. 221 – 222 Elias replies

    Yes, but to do good, not evil, to correct and improve, not to destroy, because if justice falters, it does not have the power to remedy the evil it has committed.”


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