Ibarra is a wealthy young mestizo who just returned to the Philippines after seven years of studying in Europe.The priests of San Diego view him with great suspicion because of his liberal education and connections.His father, Don Rafael, was labeled a heretic by the corrupt priesthood and imprisoned, ultimately leading to his death.Ibarra hopes to create a school in San Diego in order to carry out his father’s dreams and ideals, but he becomes entangled in conflicts with the church and is forced to flee San DIEGO as a result of a conspiracy led by the scheming Father Salv.Ibarra generally wants to work within systems to reform the Philippines, rather than overthrow them, but he shifts towards Elas’s beliefs as the novel progresses.
The goddaughter of Father Dmaso is thought to be a woman of high social standing.The daughter of Father Dmaso was the product of a scandalous relationship between the old priest and the wife.Father Dmaso disapproved of the union of Mara Clara and Ibarra.After Ibarra was excommunicated from the church, her guardians set her up to be wed to Linares, a wealthy young man of Spanish descent, and she tries to go along with the plan to avoid hurting her father.She is coerced into giving up the letters Ibarra has sent her as evidence of his guilt when he is put on trial.When she heard of Ibarra’s death, she refused to marry Linares and joined a convent.
Father Dmaso is a corrupt Spanish priest who has lived in the Philippines for nearly two decades.He thinks nothing of using his influence to ruin the lives of those he has spent a lot of time with.He masterminded the death of the younger Ibarra.Ibarra was excommunicated from the church after he attacked his father.He is the father of Mara Clara, giving him influence over her relationship with Ibarra.
Elas is a man on the run from the law who resents both the Spanish colonial government and the Catholic Church despite his strong religious convictions.He crosses paths with Ibarra, who saved him from a crocodile.In the second half of the novel, Elas works closely with Ibarra to uncover a plot against him.He and Ibarra have a lot of conversations about ethics of politics and governance.
A Spanish priest is in charge of Father Damaso’s post in San Diego.He is more dangerous because he is a more gifted strategist who uses his religious role for political influence as well as personal vendettas.The town’s ensign fights with him frequently.His plot to ruin Ibarra, who is engaged to Mara Clara, is his most significant role in the novel.
It is rare for a wealthy Filipino to be native-born.He keeps close ties with high-ranking members of the Catholic Church, despite having no respect for religion, and shamelessly joins in others’ racist insults against his own people.He wants to marry off his daughter to a man from an influential family.He is quick to give up his loyalties to Ibarra when he is labeled a traitor.He was quick to agree to Linares as a new match for his daughter.
The head of the Civil Guard is not known.A man of Spanish descent is in a bitter feud with Father Salv to gain power in the town.The citizens of San Diego can’t attend mass because of the curfews.He frequently fights with his wife, Doa Consolacin.
Doa Consolacin is an older Filipina woman who is ashamed of her heritage and pretends to be unable to speak her native language.She makes her husband’s decisions when she fights with him.She is proud and demands respect despite being ugly.
In the novel, Ibarra’s father is mentioned.Father Dmaso accuses him of sedition and heresy after he criticized the corrupt practices of the Spanish friars.He dies in prison before his name is cleared.Father Dmaso hires a gravedigger to remove his body from the Catholic cemetery in San Diego and bury him in the Chinese cemetery because he is a heretic.
A young boy studying to be a church worker, Crispn and his brother Basilio try to send money to their mother, Sisa.Crispn is kept a virtual prisoner until the debt is paid and he is blamed for stealing money from the church.On the night that he and his brother were to visit their mother, the head sexton kept them until the curfew, effectively barring the brothers from travelling.The cruel head sexton beats him and he is never seen again, though another church official claims he escaped.
Basilio is Crispn’s brother.He works as a sexton.Basilio tried to find his brother the day after Crispn was dragged away, but his search was futile.The Civil Guard is looking for him and his brother.Fearing for his life, he runs to the forest and hides until Christmas Eve.He learns that Sisa is unable to identify him as her son because she is mad at him.She dies from the shock after he follows her to the forest.
The Spaniard who calls himself Doctor Tiburcio de Espadaa was a customs officer who was dismissed from his post after arriving in the Philippines.After his wife encourages him to pretend to be a doctor, he travels the countryside posing as one and charging extortionate fees for his services.His patients eventually catch wind of his schemes and he is forced to move to another area.He returns to his fake medical practice in San Diego.
Doa Victorina is a Filipina social climber who is married to a fake doctor.She is past her prime and uses garish make-up to look younger.She wants to marry her nephew to Mara Clara in order to advance her social status.
A morally upright man of Spanish descent, he is also a lieutenant in the Civil Guard.He supports the Ibarras and is vocal about his dislike of Father Dmaso.Father Damaso was involved in the death of his father.
A respectable young Spanish man is the nephew of Dr. de Espadaa.He hopes to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and climb through the social ranks.
The teacher that Don Rafael housed was able to attend to the task of instructing students because of the sorry state of education in San Diego.The friars don’t allow him to teach Spanish in the school.The schoolmaster is grateful to the Ibarra family, but he is not hopeful that he will be able to get any lasting educational reforms to happen.
The younger generation of people in San Diego is represented by Don Filipo Lino, who is also the vice mayor of the town.He doesn’t like the idea of spending a lot of money on religious feast days because they are both wasteful and burdensome to the citizens.His words are meaningless as he is only the deputy mayor and the mayor is a follower of the friars.
The mayor of San Diego is very conservative and bows to the religious officials of the town.
The plot to kill the younger Ibarra was thwarted by the cunning Elias.He is given this nickname because of his sallow complexion.
The mother of sexton-in-training Crispin and Basilio is angry at the loss of her sons.She is allied with her sons only because of her past.She wanders the town, calling out for her sons.She can’t recognize Basilio when she actually meets him.
Father Sibyla is a priest in the Binondo district of the city of Manila and serves as a foil to Father Dmaso and the perverse Father Salv as he is rational and calm.Father Dmaso was antagonized by Father Sibyla at Ibarra’s return party.
An old man who studied philosophy is thought to be crazy by most of the community.He helped Ibarra’s father before him and gave him valuable advice.
The question and answer section is a great place to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.