Sisa is the shortened form of Narcisa, the mother of the two sacristans Crispin and Basilio in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. She went insane after her boys were accused as thieves and eventually were nowhere to be found.
Sisa is a young woman who had been beautiful before she endured the cruelty of her husband. Her beautiful eyes had long lashes and had a deep gaze, just like her sons. She has a regular nose and her pale lips had etched a pleasant but sad smile. Her skin was clear and brown, truly a kayumangging kaligatan. Pain and hunger had made her cheeks pallid and hollow. She had abundant dark hair that had been set neatly without pins or combs. Her low voice was sweet and tender. Her feet wears no slippers and her camisa threadbare.
At the end of the novel, when Sisa eventually succumbed to insanity, she became more emaciated. Her hair was loose and unkept. Her eyes either had a wild and frenzied look or became wandering and expressionless. Despite her madness, she manages to sing sweetly for Doña Consolacion.
Sisa is the typical native wife. She endures her husband's beatings and irresponsibility. She had been stripped of her few jewels by her husband, Pedro, an inveterate gambler. Despite the abuse, she considers him her god.
Sisa is described as a mother who considers her sons her only treasure. She would often anticipate when they return home as she would prepare their favorite dishes. She remembers each son's features and when alone, remembers moments when her sons were with her.
Sisa works doing some sewing for other people who often promise payment even though it had been delivered on time. She has a weak character and poor intellect. She was humble, even with her sons, as she would often inquire what they had in mind. She also values her reputation and dignity, despite her obvious poverty.
Role in the novel
Sisa played a major role in Chapters 16, 21, 39, and 63 of Noli me Tangere. She had a pure heart that carried no pretenses, the opposite of Doña Consolacion. She was a loving mother who wanted to give her sons a filling meal. She was disappointed when leftovers remained after her husband ate dinner.
Sisa became surprised when her wounded son, Basilio, came home and told her of Crispin's situation at the convent. She had tried to supplicate at the convent for the young boy's return but in vain. She comes home to see civil guards getting her hen and sending her to the cuartel.
On the way, Sisa was put to shame when people saw her in town and associated her sons with the stolen money at the convent. When her case was dismissed, she returns home to look for her sons but in vain. She loses her mind. When she causes a commotion by associating herself with a leper, she was imprisoned and tortured by the cruel muse of the alferez after the latter was exposed as a fraud Spanish speaker and was affected by Sisa's song.
After being saved by the alferez, Sisa roamed about and was recognized by the limping Basilio. As she has not recognized her son, a chase ensued and ended when Basilio fell off the tree to catch his mother. When she finally recognizes her son, Basilio had fainted. When Basilio woke up, Sisa had died. Rizal made her death one of the highlights of the novel as it showed hope upon the orphaned Basilio.
Sisa is thought to have represented the motherland who was suffering as her character has suffered from the loss of her children. The tragic events that ruined her life represented the abuse that the motherland received from her colonizers.
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