Dom Casmurro Chapter 95


My friendship with Escobar became close and fruitful and that with José Dias scarcely less so. During the first week the latter said to me at home, ‘It’s now certain that you’ll be leaving the seminary.’


‘Wait till tomorrow. They’re waiting for me to play cards. Tomorrow, in my room, in the garden, or in the street on the way to mass, I’ll tell you all about it. The idea is so inspired it’s worth a place in the sanctuary. Tomorrow, Bentinho.’

‘But is it certain?’

‘Absolutely certain.’

The next day he unveiled the mystery, which at first hearing left me fascinated. There was something lofty and spiritual about it that appealed to me as a seminarist. It was no less than this. My mother, in his view, repented of what she had done and wanted me back but was convinced that the moral obligation of her promise bound her indissolubly. The problem was to release her, and here the Scriptures came into play through the power of dispensation given to the Apostles. He and I would go to Rome to beg absolution from the Pope … What did I think?

‘It sounds good to me,’ I said, after a few moments’ reflection. ‘It could be the solution.’

‘It’s the only one, Bentinho. The only one. I’ll talk to Dona Glória today and explain everything to her. We’ll be able to leave in two months or even less …’

‘Better wait till next Sunday. Let me think about it first …’

‘Oh, Bentinho!’ he interrupted. ‘What is there to think about? What you mean is … Shall I say it? You won’t be cross with your old friend? What you mean is that you want to ask someone’s advice.’

In point of fact there were two people – Escobar and Capitu – but I swore blind that I didn’t want to consult anybody. Who? The rector? It wouldn’t be normal to consult him on such a matter. No, neither the rector, nor any teacher, nor anyone at all. All I asked was a week to think about it; on Sunday I’d give him my answer, but I could say right away that it didn’t seem a bad idea.



‘Then let’s settle it today.’

‘A journey to Rome isn’t child’s play.’

‘All roads lead to Rome, and the road, in our case, is money. Now, you have enough to look after yourself but not me as well. A pair of trousers, three shirts and my daily bread will do for me. I shall be like St Paul, who lived from day to day while he preached the word of God. But I’ll be going not to preach it but to seek it. We’ll take letters from the internuncio and the bishop, letters for our minister, letters from the Capuchins … I am well aware of the objections that can be made to the idea: they’ll say that one can ask for the dispensation from here. But apart from other things I won’t mention, you can imagine it would be a more moving and solemn spectacle to see the object of the petition himself, the promised priest, enter the Vatican and prostrate himself at the feet of the Pope to beg God’s forgiveness for the sweetest and tenderest of mothers. Just picture it – you kissing the feet of the prince of the Apostles; His Holiness, with an evangelical smile, leaning over you, enquiring, listening, absolving and blessing. The angels look on, the Virgin asks her Holy Son that all your wishes, Bentinho, be gratified, and that what you love on earth shall be equally loved in heaven …’

I won’t say more because it is necessary to end this chapter, and his speech was never-ending. He appealed to all my sentiments as a Catholic and as a lover. I saw my mother’s soul at peace, Capitu’s joy, both of them at home, myself with them and José Dias with us, all the result of a short trip to Rome, whose location both geographic and spiritual I knew but about whose distance from Capitu’s wishes I was unsure. That was the crucial point. If Capitu thought it too far off I would not go. However, I needed to consult her and also Escobar, who would give me good advice.