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El Filibusterismo: Summary and Analysis of Chapter 20 (The Arbiter)


Summary:
Don Custodio ponders over his stand on the proposal made by the students in the university.  He mulls over it, weighing both sides.  He is torn over this decision because on one hand, he wants to please the friars but on the other, he also wants to help the students learn and study Spanish.  As obvious as it is, the friars and the students are on opposite ends of the line and their opinions cannot be reconciled.  In his desperation, Don Custodio consults a number of trusted people including Senor Pasta and Pepay the dancer.  They, however, are unable to give him any help.  After a considerably long period of contemplation, Don Custodio finally arrives at a decision.

Points of Note:
Don Custodio, a thinker and a man of intelligence, consults Senor Pasta and Pepay.  The former gives him worthless advice, while the latter does nothing but dance and ask money from him.
The first paragraph of this chapter, which states that the problem regarding the school is about to come to an end because it is being addressed by Don Custodio is a direct opposite of the truth about what is really going on.
Don Custodio, considering all his responsibilities stacking over one another, is proof that during those days, the Spaniards were lacking in trusted officials.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: Why was it difficult for Don Custodio to arrive at a decision regarding the building of the school?
Answer: He wanted to please both the friars and the students, who were on opposite ends of the situation.  (Like Rizal said: If one wishes to please everybody, he will be able to please no one.)

Question: What can you say about the manner in which Don Custodio relates to the natives and the Indios?
Answer: He looks at them like a timid father to a frail young child.  As a father he is dumb, as he continues to turn a blind eye to the potential progress of the country, ignoring it although he knows it can be achieved.

Question: Briefly describe the character of Don Custodio.
Answer: He is a man whose actions do not coincide with his thoughts.

Question: What decision has Don Custodio finally arrived at regarding the school?
Answer: This can be read in the next chapter.

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