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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 Simoun plans to foment civil disturbance to precipitate the fall of the Spanish colonial
government. What are his reasons? Exactly how does he intend to accomplish this? What has
brought him to this point in his life? Discuss his past and its relevance to the narrative of El
Filibusterismo.

 When Simoun meets Basilio in the forest, he tells him “There are no despots where there
are no slaves” (p. 58). Discuss what he means in the context of the colonization of the
Philippines.

 From the various scenes and descriptions of the Spanish friars such as Camorra, Salví,
Sibyla, Irene et al., what can we deduce about their position in the colonial hierarchy? How
do they view the locals or indios? What can we infer about Rizal’s own views on the friars?

 In contrast, Father Florentino is a secular priest, an indio, and Rizal’s portrait of him is
very different from that of the Spanish friars. Discuss some of these differences, and what
might have been Rizal’s intent in positing such differences.

 At the novel’s conclusion, after Simoun’s suicide, Father Florentino throws the jewel box
into the ocean. Why?

 Not coincidentally, Rizal dedicates the Fili to the memory of Fathers Gómez, Burgos, and
Zamora, Filipino secular priests executed by the state in 1872. Who were these priests, and
why does Rizal dedicate the novel to them?

 Discuss the scene that transpires at the Kiapo Fair, when the disembodied head at Mr.
Leeds’s stall refers to an injustice, causing fear and trembling in Father Salví. At the
climactic wedding feast at Captain Tiago’s former home, Salví is similarly affected by a
biblical quote that he recognizes to have been written by Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra. What
injustice is Juan Crisóstomo seeking to redress?

 The visit of a French theatrical troupe is an occasion that brings all of Manila’s society
under one roof. How does the novelist present the scene? Discuss some of the characters,
such as Don Custodio, Ben Zayb, and the dancer Pepay, who are at the theater. How do the
two chapters devoted to it further our understanding of the narrative?

 A group of university students—among them, Isagani, Peláez, and Makaraig—propose the


establishment of an academy to teach Castilian. What are the students’ arguments for it? Why
are the friars so opposed to it?

 Flyers circulated in relation to this cause the students to be accused of being filibusteros.
What is a filibustero and how does the flyer become an occasion for the charge?

 Discuss Cabesang Tales’s decline from successful farmer and upright town official to a
vengeful outlaw. Why does he resort to the use of arms? What can we deduce about the state
of land distribution and ownership in the islands during the Spanish colonial period?
 How does the tragic end of the beautiful Julí, the fiancée of Basilio, come about? How
does the relationship between her and Basilio reflect that of Juan Crisóstomo and María
Clara?

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