Dom Casmurro Chapter 114


Before turning to the embargoes let me explain something that has already been explained but not very well. You read in Chapter 110 that I asked a music teacher in São Paulo to write down the music of the cocada-seller’s jingle in Matacavalos. The subject in itself is trivial and not worth a chapter, let alone two. But there are subjects that inspire interesting reflections, if not agreeable ones. Let me explain my explanation.

Capitu and I had vowed never to forget that jingle. It was a moment of great tenderness, and the divine notary is aware of vows made at such moments, for he registers them in his eternal books.

‘You swear?’

‘I swear,’ she said, extending her arm in a tragic gesture. I took advantage of this to kiss her hand; I was still at the seminary. When I went to São Paulo I thought at first that I had forgotten the jingle completely, but I managed to remember it and the teacher was kind enough to write it down on a piece of paper. I did this so as not to go back on my vow. But, believe it or not, when I looked through my old papers that night in Glória I could remember neither the tune nor the words. I claimed to be faithful to my vow; that was the extent of my sin. As for forgetting, anyone can forget.

No one knows for sure whether vows should be kept or not. Things of the future! However, our political constitution, by replacing an oath with a simple affirmation, has shown profound moral sense. It did away with a mortal sin. To go back on one’s word is always dishonest, but the man who fears God more than he does his fellow men will have no qualms about lying once or twice provided he does not condemn his soul to purgatory. Purgatory is not to be confused with hell, which is an eternal shipwreck. Purgatory is a pawnshop which lends out against all virtues on short terms and at high interest. However, the terms can be renewed till, one day, one or two medium-sized virtues can pay off all our sins, both great and small.