The novel opens with simple description of the landscape of Costaguana (which we can only assume translates to "The Coast of The Iguanas," right?), the fictional nation in which events take place. There are no characters in this chapter, and we get no firm idea of when in time this description comes from. By opening the novel this way, Conrad may be trying to give us a hint that this isn't the most plot-driven story in the universe. Thanks for the heads up, Conrad.
It takes a couple of chapters for a clear set of plot points to emerge, and even then, there's a ton of jumping around. That being said, we'll lay out the novel's events for you in more or less linear form, because we're total sweethearts like that.
The story proper really begins with Charles Gould's decision to take over his father's silver mine in Costaguana. An Englishman who was born in this fictional territory, Gould decides that he's going to make the mine productive (which his father was never able to do) and use the mine to bring stability and peace to his war-happy birthplace. So, he hauls his bride-to-be back to the coastal town of Sulaco and gets to work. What could possibly go wrong here, huh?
When the mine becomes a success, the Goulds grow ridiculously powerful and influential in Costaguana politics—yay. However, Charles's hopes regarding encouraging peace and prosperity don't really work out—boo. Basically, immediately after the Goulds help maneuver Don Vincente Ribiera into the position of President/Dictator, rebel forces (led by General Montero, who had previously served as Ribiera's Minister of War) start agitating to overthrow him, and war breaks out.
You might be wondering where our title character has been in all this. We were wondering, too. Not to worry, though—Nostromo definitely plays an important role in the novel's events. An Italian sailor who became the foreman of the Oceanic Steam and Navigation (O.S.N. for short) group of lightermen and caretaker of the Sulaco jetty, Nostromo is basically everyone's go-to guy.
He helps the town get rid of thieves and protects the Violas (i.e., the family he lives with), and he's instrumental in helping to get Don Vincente out of Costaguana before the rebel forces can seize him. His name sounds a tad occult, but he's a good dude with a sound head on his shoulders.
During the war that ensues, Nostromo is asked to help the Goulds get one of their silver shipments out of Sulaco before rebel forces arrive in town, so they can't get their grubby rebel paws on it. As part of the same mission, he is supposed to get Martin Decoud out of town. Martin, a journalist who is really critical of Montero and his people, would have been in mortal danger once Montero got to town. The plan is to meet up with a passing boat and put Martin and the silver on there.
They manage to get out of Sulaco successfully, but not without some hiccups. While trying to sail quietly out of the harbor, they discover a hysterical stowaway named Hirsch on board. Then, an incoming steamer filled with rebels, led by Sotillo, hits their lighter, causing it to flood. In the brouhaha, Hirsch goes overboard and gets picked up by the steamer.
Meanwhile, Martin and Nostromo end up at the Great Isabel, an island off Sulaco's coast, where Nostromo drops Martin off and they bury the treasure, pirate-style. He leaves Martin with a lifeboat, but Martin is basically supposed to stay put until Nostromo can come back.
Nostromo heads back out in the lighter. To make sure his mission and its outcome are top-secret, he sinks the lighter and then swims back to Sulaco to hide out and figure out a new plan. He ultimately helps out the resistance efforts by traveling to Cayta to bring General Barrios back to Sulaco. He ends up being super-instrumental in the creation of an independent Occidental Republic.
Martin is not so lucky: he ends up going crazy on the island and shooting himself. Nostromo decides to keep the silver they had buried there for himself, since it was already assumed lost when the lighter sank.
However, that decision ends up being his downfall. Greed is not good, Nostromo. The O.S.N. decides to build a lighthouse on the Great Isabel, which makes Nostromo pretty anxious that someone will find the silver. To solve that problem, he make sure that his friends the Violas get installed there as caretakers. He gets engaged to the eldest Viola daughter, figuring it would give him the perfect excuse to be on the island skulking around.
However, while he's sneaking around one night visiting his treasure, old Viola mistakes him for another dude who was trying to date his youngest daughter, Giselle (irony alert: Nostromo actually had been sneaking around making kissy face with the younger Viola… he just isn't doing it at that moment) and shoots him. Nostromo then dies.
Moral of this story: burying treasure, pirate-booty-style, almost always goes wrong.
Part 1, Chapter 1
- The "Part First" of this novel is called "The Silver of The Mine." Holy Yoda-style diction, Batman. Why can't it be called First Part: The Mine's Silver? You'll have to ask Joe Conrad.
- This chapter is pretty action-free (and proud). It gives us a detailed description of the physical landscape in Sulaco, a fictional Latin American port/province (which located in the fictional Republic of Costaguana).
- Also, we hear the story of three dudes who went looking for treasure and got in trouble as a result: symbolically important anecdote alert!
Part 1, Chapter 2
- Still not a ton going on here in the way of action. We get a little bit of history about the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (O.S.N.), for which Sulaco is a port of call.
- We also finally get some information about characters, including Captain Mitchell (the superintendent of the O.S.N. in Sulaco) and Nostromo (who works for Captain Mitchell).
- Also, we dip into tales of political turmoil in Sulaco/Costaguana. We hear about Nostromo's role in helping a dictator, Señor Ribiera, escape from revolutionaries, and a little bit about the aftermath of that escapade. Seems like a passing anecdote at first…
Part 1, Chapter 3
- The narrator describes the way in which Giorgio Viola, the hotelkeeper, hid from looters/revolutionaries on the day of Señor Ribiera's escape from Sulaco, with his family in tow. Giorgio's wife, Teresa, was apparently super annoyed that Nostromo, who lived with them, wasn't there to protect them.
- After cowering in the house with the windows covered for a while, they heard a crowd of people running by; however, no one tried to get in.
- Then, there was a loud bang on the shutter as Teresa started to scream. Someone from outside was shouting to get in. Ugh, creepy.
Part 1, Chapter 4
- We now learn that it was Nostromo banging on the shutter in the previous chapter. Phew, not bandits.
- We then get more general information/reflections on Viola, his family, and his business running the hotel and cooking for/serving the "Signori Inglesi"—that is, English engineers who are staying at the hotel.
Part 1, Chapter 5
- Now we've jumped back in time to eighteen months prior to Don Vincente's unceremonious booting from the country, when he was in Sulaco to celebrate breaking ground on the National Central Railway.
- We meet yet more characters, including Mrs. Emilia Gould, the wife of Charles (aka Don Carlos), who runs the San Tomé silver mine. Also, Sir John, the chairman of the railway board, was there, visiting from London.
- We also get some background on Moraga (the agent of the mine) and the Montero brothers.
- The narrator then describes how Don Vincente's tour plugging the national railway came about. General Montero accompanied Don Vincente on this trip.
- Finally, the narrator describes Sir John's trip to meet with the chief engineer of the railway before heading into Sulaco with the assistance of (and under the protection of) Nostromo. Okay, now we have a handle on the chief characters in this novel.
Part 1, Chapter 6
- Now it's time to meet the Goulds, who are pretty important players. They are an English couple. Charles (a.k.a. Carlos) Gould's family goes back in Costaguana for three generations, and his uncle was briefly President of the state of Costaguana (during the Federalist period)… before he was executed. Eek. He has a wife named Emilia.
- We learn about their early life in Costaguana, to which Mr. Gould returned after his father's death (having spent a good portion of his life in Europe).
- We also learn about the Goulds' relationship with Avellanos, a neighboring family.
- Then, we get information about how Charles came to take over the San Tomé mine, including the government "concession" that "gave" the mine to his family (which basically ruined his father).
- As part of that story, the narrator relays how an American steel/silver tycoon named Holroyd got involved in the mine and how his relationship with Charles developed over time.
- We hear about Holroyd's surprise visit to inspect progress on the mine, and Charles's conversation with Emilia afterwards.
Part 1, Chapter 7
- We also learn more about the Goulds' travels in collecting labor and preparing the mine to open, and particularly Mrs. Gould's reactions and reception on these trips.
- We then get a peek into the political wheelings and dealings that make the mine possible. Charles met with a Sulaco political chief (referred to as "Excellency," which is fancy-shmancy) and bribed him, apparently. "Excellency" was all smiles upon getting the money, to Charles's face, but then privately thought about how much he didn't like Gould.
- The chapter also talks about Moraga and his role as the San Tomé mine's agent, and Bonifacio, a muleteer (a dude who drives mules) who was entrusted with bringing Moraga's letters to his uncle, Don José Avellanos.
Part 1, Chapter 8
- Moving right along, we learn about the mine's effect on life in Sulaco prior to the arrival of the railway. Apparently, it had a steadying effect.
- We then learn more about the mine and how it developed, and how life among the miners went down.
- The narrator also describes how Nostromo kept order among (read: punished) the workers when they tried to strike.
- We learn about the relationship between Dr. Monygham and Father Román.
- Then, we get more details about the Goulds' lives leading up to the mine's first production—and the moment they produced their first silver ingot. We wish we had stories like that. Or ingots like that.
- This somehow leads into a story about Hernández, a famous bandit—apparently seeing the ingot reminded Don Pepe of him.
- The chapter gets into more detail about how the mine and those associated with it gained power and influence, and the backlash this may have created among Costaguana politicians.
- We hear about the first shipment of silver to San Francisco via an O.S.N. boat and get some more deets about how distribution worked.
- And now we're back to more history of the political landscape in Costaguana. Apparently, the mine emerged at a time of relative peace—and in political conditions that allowed it to flourish.
- The narration now jumps back to Sir John's trip to Costaguana to promote the railways, which Charles Gould helped out with. A lot. During his trip, Sir J. got the impression that the San Tomé mine had helped finance the revolution that brought Don Vincente, a dictator, to power. He's right on the money with this theory.
- We hear more about a lunch held on the Juno during Sir John's visit and the dynamics between Gould, Don Vincente, Sir John, Mrs. Gould, and General Montero that were evidently at play that day. This was Don Vincente's first official visit to Sulaco.
- During the lunch, Don Vincente spoke, as did General Montero. The general made a somewhat ominous reference to the honor of the country being in the hands of the military… yuck. That doesn't sound good.
- During his speech, Montero ended up staring directly at Sir John and, thinking of some "lately-negotiated loan" (I.8.56), offered a toast to the man bringing Costaguana 1.5 million pounds. Apparently, it was super awkward.
- Anyway, the group recovered, and then Mrs. Gould took the opportunity to ask Sir John for a favor: when the rail line was built, she asked that Giorgio Viola's house not be disturbed. Sir John agreed.
- Mrs. Gould went to tell Viola, and then Viola told Nostromo.
- Nostromo then left Viola, riding off on his horse. As he rode through throngs of people, he was greeted and stared at by tons of people. Apparently, he really was quite the big deal. One guy was even addressing him as "his worship" and begged for a job on the wharf.
- Nostromo then arrived at a dance hall, and ran into a girl he called Morenita. Apparently, they were an item, and they had a flirty but fighty encounter. He ended up demanding that she cut all the silver buttons off of her shirt as a "present." This weirdo demand is (according to Nostromo) intended to appease her, because it's to let others know that she and Nostromo are lovers. Not surprisingly, Morenita doesn't like idea of ruining her shirt for Jerk-stromo, and ended up wandering away in a huff.
- The chapter ends by noting that Don Vincente had departed from Sulaco, and reminds us that he would return a year and a half later in the process of fleeing the country. In other ominous foreshadowing, we learn that Nostromo's heroics in saving Don Vincente on that occasion ultimately resulted in a "fatality." Dum dum dum.
Part 2, Chapter 1
- "Part Second" is called "The Isabels" and begins with a description of how life went on for folks affiliated with the mine during the war alluded to in the previous section/chapter.
- Because the war had brought back some of the retro symbols of Costaguana's Federalist period (like provincial flags), the narration then veers into memories of another war that brought the tyrant Guzmán Bento to power.
- We learn about how Avellanos, who was targeted by Bento, suffered during that conflict. This country isn't big on peacetime, we guess.
- Then, the narrator describes how Avellanos gained power and influence after Bento's death, and how he helped bring Don Vincente to power and revived the Blanco party.
- Hey—we feel you, Shmooper. There are enough characters in this novel to fill a megacity. Hold tight and we promise they'll all sort themselves out.
- Avellanos's relationship with the Goulds is also mentioned. So are Charles Gould's private views regarding the ethics behind his political power and influence.
- Finally, the end of the chapter describes the means by which Gould got Holroyd interested in helping Ribiera in his rise to power (by helping, of course, we mean $$$).
Part 2, Chapter 2
- This chapter picks up just a little bit after where the last one left off (which is actually pretty unusual in this scattered book!), with Ribiera settling into life as dictator after some military struggles.
- Looks like we're going to dig into this period in Costaguana in a more extended way. Phew. We were getting whiplash from all our rigorous time-travel.
- General Montero had been instrumental in securing victory for Ribiera. However, almost immediately after Ribiera rose to power, Montero emerged as a threat to him—which was reaaaaally tricky politically, since Montero was a super popular war hero at that point (and so not easy to quash).
- Six months after the President and Montero visited Sulaco together, news reached Sulaco that Montero (with assistance from his brother, Pedrito) had brought over a military coup in "the name of national honour." In Montero's view, Ribiera had sold this honor to foreigners.
- The narrator then offers details about how Sulaco, which was physically removed from the violence, fared during the war.
- We learn that a bandit named Hernández had volunteered to help serve Don Vincente (and bring in his followers to do the same) in exchange for a pardon for his previous crimes. There is no mention of whether the offer was refused or accepted.
- We then hear about when troops embarked for war from Sulaco, and we meet Avellanos's daughter, Antonia, who was sitting in Mrs. Gould's carriage to watch the departure.
- We then get some details about Antonia. Apparently, she's quite the smarty-pants, and a beauty to boot.
Part 2, Chapter 3
- We pick up here just a few moments later, with Antonia, Don José, and Mrs. Gould hanging out in the carriage and General Barrios stopping by to say hello to Mrs. Gould. While all this was going on, Antonia was checking out some dude standing nearby. We soon learn that his name is Martin Decoud.
- We then get a little information about how Martin, who was born in Sulaco but had lived a lot of his life in Europe, ended up coming back home.
- He had been living in France until he was recruited to serve on the "patriotic small-arms committee of Sulaco," a position he was offered because he was likely to be loyal to Don José (his godfather) and his political/business associates.
- Martin's appointment and his activities took place behind the back of General Montero, who at this point was apparently still part of Ribiera's government but not trusted.
- Martin's job was apparently to get arms into the hands of General Barrios. He decided to deliver them himself—he made an excuse about wanting to see his job through to the end, but his sister suspected his motive was to see Antonia.
- Whatever his motive, he traveled to Costaguana to deliver the arms. Before he could arrive, however, Montero had already turned against Ribiera.
- Martin had been planning to return to Europe right away but, after seeing Antonia, seemed to change his mind. So, he stuck around.
- Because he had demonstrated some talent for writing and journalism previously, Martin gets tapped to run the anti-Monterist newspaper Porvenir (to combat the claims being made in the pro-Monterist press, naturally).
Part 2, Chapter 4
- After that detour into Martin's background/reasons for being in Sulaco, we've flashed back to the day of the Sulaco troops' departure for battle against General Montero's people, with Martin leaning against Mrs. Gould's carriage.
- We get a little bit of the conversation between General Barrios and Mrs. Gould, with a healthy amount of backstory on Barrios thrown in.
- Then General Barrios has to depart, and Mrs. Gould's carriage (with Martin now in it) departs for the Goulds' house. They stop at Viola's hotel along the way to chat/grab some water. In the process, Martin and Viola grumble a little bit about politics.
- Martin's generally mocking/sarcastic tone seems to rub everyone in the company the wrong way, including a dude named Scarfe (who worked for the railway), who comes by to pay his respects to Mrs. Gould.
- Then, Scarfe goes on a tirade about Montero, noting, "There was no saying what would happen to the railway if the revolution got the upper hand" (II.4.31). His ramblings about Montero, how much he loves working on the railway, etc. don't really go over well, and after a really awkward silence, Mrs. Gould ordered the carriage on. Scarfe is left behind, apparently a bit puzzled/embarrassed by the chilly reception his speech got.
- Meanwhile, the folks in the carriage discuss Scarfe's immaturity and enthusiasm for Ribiera and the railway industry, as well as the larger political/cultural currents that Scarfe symbolizes.
Part 2, Chapter 5
- Picking up where the last chapter left off, Mrs. Gould, Antonia, Don José, and Martin are still discussing Costaguana politics when they arrive back at the Gould residence. Martin makes some comments that Mrs. Gould takes as a slam against her husband, as does Antonia. Martin denies that he means to neg Mr. Gould, though.
- Martin and Antonia then move off from the group a bit, onto the balcony outside the main salon where everyone has been having tea, and he tries to get her to understand his political views better. He also suggests that they leave Sulaco together. During their conversation, he lets drop that he has managed to make friends with Nostromo.
- Meanwhile, other friends of the Goulds come around to talk politics and war.
- After a little while, Antonia goes back into the house and leaves with Mrs. Gould and the chief engineer.
- Martin also comes in from the balcony and engages in banter/discussion with Father Corbelán, who (we then learn) the chief magistrate had wanted to deport for riling up the populace in the wrong ways and being in touch with the robber Hernández. Tsk tsk, Father.
- Then, Father Corbelán gets on Martin's case for being a heathen, and Martin kind of half-heartedly defends himself.
- Slowly, the visitors trickle out (including Martin) until only a hide-merchant named Hirsch from Esmeralda is left. Hirsch is feeling pretty tweaky about his future trade prospects in the country and is trying to get Gould's reassurance. Also, he keeps harping on his disconcerting first meeting with Nostromo on the road to Sulaco. Apparently, Hirsch initially took Nostromo for a bandit. When Gould reassures him Nostromo is good people, Hirsch doesn't seem to believe it, emphasizing that Nostromo had been talking to bandits.
- Hirsch then tries again to get Gould to talk business prospects, offering to put him in touch with a German dynamite dealer. At this point, Gould finally loses his patience with the dude and explains that he already has plenty of dynamite. Wait, what? What does he need dynamite for?
- After Mr. Hirsch leaves the chief engineer, also on his way out, casually mentions that now he knows where to go for extra dynamite, should he need it. Gould insists that he will not be letting any of it go, as he is keeping it ready to blow up the mine (!), if that should become necessary.
- Oh right, they're at war. Apparently, he really doesn't want the mine getting into the wrong hands.
Part 2, Chapter 6
- After his company leaves, Mr. Gould retires to his room, where he finds his wife.
- Mrs. Gould is worried about their precarious position in light of recent events. Mr. Gould doesn't really want to talk about it, however, and doesn't seem inclined to acknowledge her worries.
- He then mentions he is going up to the mine later that evening, so he can bring some silver back down the next day. She leaves him so he can get some sleep before heading out.
- Upon leaving her husband, Mrs. Gould discovers that Martin had supposedly returned to search for Antonia's lost fan.
- However, she soon discovers this is a cover story offered for the benefit of Basilio, the head servant. He has actually returned to talk to Mrs. Gould.
- He explains that he has received news from the local telegraphist that Sta. Marta, an important Costaguana town, has reportedly fallen to the Monterists, which put the anti-Monterist military effort in jeopardy.
- Although they aren't sure the rumors can be believed, they discuss possible solutions to this new crisis. Martin's idea is to bring about another revolution. Before he gets into the details, he suggests keeping Mr. Gould in the dark, thinking him too much an "idealist" (II.6.70).
- Mrs. Gould guesses correctly that Martin's idea is to separate the Western (Occidental) province of Costaguana from the rest. They then discuss ideas and strategies for how to make that happen, as well as other logistics (e.g., the silver shipment coming down the next day, which will be bait for looters, revolutionaries, etc.).
- Martin mentions that he has gotten Nostromo to agree to help out the European contingent in Sulaco if rioting breaks out. They then discuss Nostromo's trustworthiness.
Part 2, Chapter 7
- The chapter opens with Martin holed up in the Violas' hotel writing to his sister. It is nighttime, and apparently it has been quite an eventful day.
- In the letter, he describes Ribiera's escape and the looting/rioting that occurred that same day (which we had already heard about from the omniscient narrator earlier in the novel) and his involvement in the day's events.
- He announces that the political tides have turned in the Provincial Assembly.
- Taking a break from writing, he then talks to Viola's two daughters, who are also in the room cowering in the corner. They talked a lot about Nostromo.
- When Martin returns to writing, he notes that Barrios's troops had reached Cayta and sent word that 'The greatest enthusiasm prevails' there (II.7.35). Finally, some good news.
- He also describes helping out with the wounded when he visited the Goulds' house (they were being treated there).
- When he went upstairs at Casa Gould, he found what was left of the Provincial Assembly getting ready to surrender. He railed against them for considering playing ball with Montero, but they weren't impressed—except, perhaps, for Don José, who seemed to offer his blessing to Martin's plans to resist Montero's governance.
- At this point in the letter, he tells his sister that Don José was apparently close to death the last time Martin saw him (after the run in at Casa Gould). That was also the last time he saw Antonia.
- In other news, Father Corbelán had fled from Sulaco the previous evening.
- Martin then went back to the meeting at Casa Gould and described the plans he had been making with Don Carlos, Antonia, and Mrs. Gould to resist the Monterist takeover. They had discussed getting financial support for their scheme from Holroyd. Later in the meeting, the engineer-in-chief of the railway had joined them.
- Unfortunately, the engineer wasn't coming without news: He said that the telegraph operator at the foot of the mountains had gotten in touch saying that Ribiera, contrary to what he believed, had been followed over the mountains—by Pedro Montero, the general's brother, who was planning to seize Sulaco. He and his men had found Bonifacio lying on the road and killed him.
- With that detail, Martin essentially brings his sister up to date. He is expecting Pedro Montero in Sulaco in less than thirty hours.
- To make matters worse, they are also expecting another set of Monterist forces to arrive by sea from the fallen garrison of Esmeralda—and those folks are expected before daybreak. Knowing that Montero was likely to kill him for his anti-Monterist news reporting, Martin plans to get out of dodge ASAP. He and the silver shipment that just came down to Sulaco from the mine would be fleeing together with some help from Nostromo.
- Nostromo then returns to the hotel from fetching the doctor for Teresa Viola, who is dying. Before being allowed to leave for their mission to get the Gould silver (and Martin) out of Sulaco by boat, Nostromo has to go visit with Teresa. Martin goes ahead to the boat with the Goulds, leaving Nostromo behind to complete that last task.
- During their visit, Teresa seems dissatisfied with Nostromo's level of devotion to her and her family and his choices overall. Also, she tries to get him to go fetch a priest for her, but he refuses because he needs to hit the road with the silver.
- Nostromo then goes to the lighter, and he and Martin set off with the silver alone… or at least thinking they are alone.
- As they float along, Nostromo and Martin discuss the Goulds' motivations and wisdom in having Nostromo risk his neck to save the silver like this. Nostromo laments the way he left Teresa.
- Then, hearing some weird noises coming from elsewhere on the boat, Nostromo comes to realize they weren't alone, and they discover Hirsch hiding under the half-deck.
Part 2, Chapter 8
- They soon learned that Hirsch has stowed away in the lighter in a desperate attempt to get away from Sulaco and is hysterical.
- This discovery definitely presents a bit of a complication, since they are trying to get away from shore as quickly and quietly as possible. They know that the steamer from Esmeralda will be arriving soon—and that the soldiers on board will definitely be interested in stealing that silver—so keeping their presence on the DL is key.
- They aren't sure what to do with Hirsch, but the moment for killing him (which both Nostromo and Martin considered) has passed. Good for morality, bad for… everything else.
- Since they can't, you know, turn on any lights or make any considerable noise whatsoever, they are kind of hampered in the navigation department. Also, there is no wind. These guys just can't catch a break, it seems.
- Nostromo decides that he will try to get them over to the Isabels, a group of small islands off the coast, so they can hide the boat from view before daybreak. He does not want to just be floating out there, visible to all, when the sun comes up.
- However, before they can execute that plan, they hear the dreaded steamer approaching.
- The steamer stops very close to them (eep). However, since it is still dark, and Nostromo and Martin are being super quiet, the steamer folks don't know they're there. Yet. Martin and Nostromo keep chatting quietly while waiting for the situation to resolve, discussing what they will do with the treasure if they are discovered and how they would attempt to get away. Sinking their own ship seems to be the best option.
- Then the omniscient narration kind of switches over to give us a glimpse of what is happening on the steamer, including Sotillo's thoughts and motivations in heading toward Sulaco. Apparently, he has no idea that the President has escaped, or that Montero is actually on his way to Sulaco as well. Also, he has no idea that folks in Sulaco had been warned he was coming.
- We also learn about the various squabbles that are going on on the steamer, some of which lead the engineers to stop the steamer briefly.
- When the steamer's captain finally get a brief glimpse of the Isabels, a key orientation point, he knows exactly which direction to go in to get into the harbor. He starts moving the steamer thataways.
- The narration switches back here to Nostromo and Martin on the lighter, who hear the steamer on the move and correctly guess where it is headed.
- Well, almost correctly—they think that the steamer would pass close to them but avoid hitting . . . well, they are wrong about that. The steamer hits the lighter obliquely, leaving the lighter half-swamped as a result. Uh oh.
- The good news is that those aboard the steamer have no idea there had been a collision, since the steamer is so much larger. However, in the wake of the incident, Hirsch starts screaming once again and ends up in the water, where the steamer picks him up. He is questioned, but Sotillo and his men don't really believe anything he had to say, since he seems too freaked out to make sense.
- Meanwhile, back on the lighter, Nostromo and Martin pump water out to try to keep her afloat long enough to get her to the Isabels. They succeed, coming ashore and hiding the treasure without being detected.
- Then, leaving Martin with the food from the boat and the treasure hidden, Nostromo gets back in the lighter and heads out again, promising to try to return within a couple of days.
- Although he has originally been planning to head back to the harbor on the lighter, Nostromo figures that he would get a lot of questions that way and probably end up in prison. So, instead, he sinks the lighter offshore and, at the end of the chapter, intends to swim a mile to an abandoned fort where he can catch a much-needed nap.
Part 3, Chapter 1
- Ye olde "Part Third" is called "The Lighthouse."
- The narration picks up back in Sulaco, where preparations for the arrival of the steamer are underway. In particular, we learn what the chief engineer of the railway is doing to prepare. His strategy: Get out of the way and don't give the new guys in power a reason to be angry.
- He is primarily concerned with protecting the railway's interests. However, he does manage to buy people in the resistance some time and breathing room to prepare by giving out that Pedro Montero was perhaps a bit closer to arriving in Sulaco than he actually is, which encouraged the two newly appointed "chiefs" of the land, Fuentes and Gamacho, to leave the city alone long enough to ride out to meet "Pedrito."
- Chatting together in Viola's hotel, the engineer and Doctor Monygham discuss Teresa's health. Mrs. Gould has taken the Viola daughters back to Casa Gould with her, and the doctor is staying at her request to look after Viola and his wife. The engineer is considering staying as well to protect the place from Sotillo's men.
- They discuss how to get the doctor out of town the next day, and the likelihood that he and the Goulds (and the Goulds' swag) are in danger. They also talk about Martin, Holroyd, and Nostromo.
Part 3, Chapter 2
- This chapter starts off with Captain Mitchell's memories of that night.
- After the lighter's departure, Mitchell prowled around and kept an eye out for the arrival of the steamer. Eventually, he heard the steamer arriving and saw Sotillo and his men disembark. Soon after, the men discovered him and took him prisoner in the Custom House.
- We then learn a bit more about how Hirsch's garbled account of events have influenced Sotillo's strategy in hunting for the silver (after he found the Custom House empty).
- Then, the narrator provides details of an encounter between Mitchell and Sotillo after the former is captured. Sotillo initially tries the strategy of being friendly to try to get Mitchell's help/allegiance, but that dream ends quickly when Mitchell realized Sotillo's men steal his watch and got all angry and threatening. Mitchell is then tied up and interrogated about the silver.
- Mitchell doesn't give him any information, and they take him away to lock him up. On his way down to his "cell," he encounters the chief engineer, Doctor Monygham, and Viola on their way up, having also been brought in for questioning.
- Later, the doctor is thrown into the same cell with Mitchell, and they discuss these recent developments with Sotillo and his quest for the silver. Also, the doctor relays news of Teresa's final moments and death.
- Then, the doctor tells Mitchell about his meeting with Sotillo, when he learned (supposedly) that Nostromo has drowned. That information comes from Hirsch, who once again (in front of the doctor) gives Sotillo an account of what had happened on the water early that morning.
Part 3, Chapter 3
- The chapter picks up with more details about the meeting between the doctor and Sotillo. Sotillo indicates he thought Charles Gould was just pretending the silver shipment was missing in order to get it all to himself. The doctor agrees that that is possible. He also tries to plant the idea in Sotillo's head that the silver has been buried on land rather than taken out by sea.
- Hearing these details, Captain Mitchell gets his feathers in a ruffle about the fact the doctor has suggested Gould pretended to lose the silver so that he could keep it for himself.
- Then the doctor announces that Sotillo has released Viola and is about to release Mitchell as well.
- That turns out to be true: A short time later, the door opens, and Mitchell is brought back to Sotillo, who releases him. The reason? Sotillo thinks that Mitchell is too small a fish to fry, basically.
- Then the doctor and Sotillo chat, and the doctor suggests leaving the Goulds alone until their plans became clear—and he offers to try to get some information out of Charles. Sotillo is pleased that the doctor is so willing to sell out his countrymen. However, he is clear in his own mind that he will not reward the doctor, regardless of how helpful he is, and thinks the doctor is a fool.
- We also get some more details about Sotillo's motivations and plans at that moment.
- Then, we learn about Hernández's appointment as a general just prior to the outbreak of rioting and how things went between him and Father Corbelán, who had advocated for him with the Goulds.
- Apparently, after hearing from her uncle, Antonia decided to go help out Hernández and his pack. Hernández was committed to holding a bunch of the land between the woods and the coast until Martin could return with Barrios (since no one knew that Martin was hanging out on the Great Isabel).
- We then hear about an encounter between Charles and a representative of Hernández's people as Charles was escorting Antonia (and Avellanos, who was on a stretcher) out of town. The rep has ridden out to try to get Gould to back up any agreement that Father Corbelán might make with Hernández to ensure his loyalty and protection for the anti-Monterist resistance. Antonia asked Charles to go along with it, and he did.
Part 3, Chapter 4
- After seeing Antonia off in his own carriage, Charles rides toward home.
- Once there, he receives a visit from Don Juste López and two other members of the Provincial Assembly. They have come to ask Charles to join members of the Assembly for the new government authorities (when they arrived). He refuses—and suggests that these dudes just hide out in their houses to wait for whatever is coming rather than giving themselves up formally to Montero.
- Don Juste and his friends are very upset to hear that Gould won't join them, feeling abandoned by their powerful ally.
- A bit later, the doctor arrives at Casa Gould. He finds that Charles has gone to bed and asked not to be disturbed.
- Instead, the doctor goes to find Mrs. Gould, demanding that the servant wake her up. As he waits, he laments Charles's handling of recent events, including his willingness to be involved in Martin's scheme.
- He also thinks about events in his own history that have framed his behavior and reaction to the current situation, including how he was tortured and imprisoned under Guzmán Bento. That sounds massively unpleasant.
- We also learn that he feels a tremendous amount of loyalty to Mrs. Gould and is really concerned about her welfare in all this political hoopla.
- Eventually, the doctor meets with Mrs. Gould, and Mr. Gould joins them shortly after. The doctor relays the rumors that the silver has sunk and Nostromo and Martin have died in the process.
- Gould comes to the conclusion that, now that Martin is dead, he will ultimately have to get more directly involved in political maneuverings to ensure the safety of his family and economic interests.
- Then, Mrs. Gould suddenly becomes overcome at the thought that Antonia will kill herself once she hears that Martin is dead.
- Then, Mr. Gould remarks that he will write to Holroyd relaying his assurances that the San Tomé mine can successfully help bring about a new state. He is confident the American moneyman will get on board with this plan.
- As they are talking, the bells of some nearby churches start pealing loudly. The noise sends the servants into a panic, since they take it as a sign of impending violence. Gould just tells them to shut the windows. A cool customer, he is.
Part 3, Chapter 5
- This chapter describes Pedro Montero's arrival in Sulaco, with some backstory thrown in on his life journey toward being his brother's political puppet master.
- We get details of Pedro's ride into town and the welcome he receives, as well as his reactions while settling in at the looted and destroyed Intendencia.
Part 3, Chapter 6
- The narration picks up near the mine with Don Pepe. We learn Montero has sent two men to ask Don Pepe to name the conditions under which he will give over the mine in working order. Don Pepe reads the message without sending a response back.
- He then relays the offer to Father Román, as well as the news that Charles Gould is still alive, for now.
- Don Pepe and the priest discuss the likelihood of being able to continue to protect the mine. He resolves to do everything he can to protect the mine from a takeover. He is pleased, however, not to make that intention immediately clear to Montero, which is why he just doesn't send back any kind of reply to the request.
- However, he also thinks that the personnel of the mine should take up arms, go to town, and fight—he will just need someone reliable to stay back and execute Gould's instructions (i.e., destroying the mine if it fell into enemy hands). It seems that he has a certain priest in mind for the job…
Part 3, Chapter 7
- Back in Sulaco, Gould is meeting with Montero and refusing to play ball. Montero tries to throw titles and prestige at him to sweeten the deal, but Gould isn't having it.
- When he returns to his house, the doctor is very relieved; he hadn't been sure Montero would let Gould come back.
- Gould then relays the details of their meeting, including how he made clear that if anything happened to him, the mine would be destroyed.
- They then discuss Don Pepe, guessing (correctly, as we already know) that Montero will attempt to get him on his team. They then talk strategy for how to proceed next with Montero and his folks, after which the doctor leaves.
- Then the narration switches focus, rejoining Nostromo, who is just waking up from his 14-hour nap in the abandoned fort…
Part 3, Chapter 8
- After swimming and sleeping hard, Nostromo wakes up a bit befuddled. However, he quickly gets with it and tries to formulate a plan.
- He sneaks around for a bit and checks out the harbor, seeing that Sotillo's steamer is there.
- As he is walking, headed for the Casa Viola, he sees a group of infantry marching off for the country. Hmm…
- He decides to switch up his destination, heading instead toward the harbor. When he comes to the Custom House, which is lit up, he becomes curious about who is in there and decided to stop.
- He discovers that someone has tried to light the stairs in the hall on fire; however, the flames have failed to catch.
- While he is prowling around trying to figure out who is actually in the Custom House (he can see the shadow of someone upstairs), the doctor arrives. Thinking that he was expected by Sotillo and/or his guys, he heads up to the room with the lit windows while Nostromo waits.
- The doctor then calls Nostromo in, assuring him it is safe for him to enter.
- When Nostromo complies, he finds that the shadowy figure he'd been stalking within the lit room has been poor Hirsch swinging from the ceiling by a rope, having been tortured and then shot. Aww, poor dude.
- The doctor tells Nostromo the story Hirsch told Sotillo, and Nostromo is relieved to learn Sotillo still thought the silver had sunk with the lighter.
- The doctor also informs Nostromo of Teresa's death.
- Then, they discuss the silver (mostly Sotillo's obsession with it). The doctor notes that Sotillo refuses to believe that it was lost and thinks Hirsch was lying. The doctor encourages that impression, prompting Nostromo to tell him he's dangerous (i.e., for endangering Hirsch through that lie).
- The doctor is surprised that Nostromo would consider him dangerous. Privately, he thinks about how much he hates the subterfuge involved in manipulating Sotillo, but he remains determined to see the task through to the end, despite the personal dangers.
Part 3, Chapter 9
- Moving back in time slightly, we get a glimpse into what Sotillo had been up to leading to Hirsch's death and his exit from the Custom House.
- Earlier that day, an emissary from Fuentes had come to talk to Sotillo. The emissary had intended to get Sotillo to come meet with Pedrito.
- However, because the prospect of meeting Pedrito terrified Sotillo—and because he wanted to be free to go looking for the silver he assumed was still lying around—he pretended to be too sick to receive Fuentes's man. He promised he would be better the next day—and, until then, hoped that the envoy would do him a solid and stop by the Goulds to tell the doctor he was needed at the Custom House.
- He continued to be anxious for the doctor to return—not for his health, of course, but to get more info on the "treasure." Then he realized that Hirsch, who had remained his prisoner, could be pressed for those same details.
- He tortured Hirsch, but didn't get any additional information (naturally, since Hirsch was telling the truth… as far as he knew).
- During the torture, Hirsch spat in his face. In response, Sotillo impulsively shot him.
- He immediately regretted the decision, since he believed Hirsch had information he needed—plus, if his men knew Hirsch had died without providing the location of the treasure, he would be in deep trouble.
- So, when his men ran in and asked what was up, he lied and said Hirsch had confessed, which is why he decided to kill him. He then ordered his men to move out of the Custom House and burn it on their way out.
- The narration then flashes forward to the doctor and Nostromo talking in the Custom House later, after they have found Hirsch's body. The doctor is very perplexed by the fact that Hirsch was shot.
- The doctor is also thinking about how crucial Nostromo will be to the success of his own plans and interests—which included getting Barrios back to Sulaco.
- He suggests that Nostromo go to the Casa Viola to hide out before going to Cayta. Nostromo struggles to figure out the best course of action that will ensure both glory and security for him.
- Nostromo indicates he is open to going to Cayta as long as the chief engineer can be convinced to help get him there.
- While they are chatting, the doctor casually mentions that he will tell Sotillo the treasure has been buried on the Great Isabel (since he has to tell him something to keep him busy). Naturally, Nostromo is horrified that the doctor has accidentally chosen the real location of the silver. Without telling the doctor anything, Nostromo convinces him to tell Sotillo it was sunk somewhere in the harbor that could be searched easily. The doctor agrees.
- Then, Nostromo decides he has to go into town to talk to the Goulds, but the doctor convinces him to just go straight to the Violas to keep him out of sight.
- When Nostromo enters, he finds Giorgio sitting in the dark. They chat, and Nostromo demands a snack.
Part 3, Chapter 10
- The book now hits fast forward in a big way, and we are privy to the story Captain Mitchell tells visitors whey they come to (wait for it) the capital of the Occidental Republic. Looks like Martin's plan came to fruition after all. Let's check out how it all went down…
- Mitchell describes Barrios's defeat of Pedrito's men. Gamacho was executed. The miners marched on the town, led by Don Pepe.
- The premise of this chapter is that we're getting these details as Captain Mitchell leads his visitor(s) on a tour of Sulaco. When he and his guest reach the cathedral, we learn that it contains memorial tributes to Don Avellanos (who died in the woods of Los Hatos) and Martin. Sad, it's looking like Martin's island getaway ended badly…
- As far as other political appointments: Don Juste López has been made Chief of State, and Hernández is now Minister of War. He had been the general of the cavalry that killed Fuentes.
- The Goulds and the doctor also survived, we learn, when Mitchell passes Emilia and the doctor during this tour.
- Mitchell then describes Nostromo's part in these historical events. He relays the details of Nostromo's trip to Cayta and triumphant return with Barrios. He also describes how Doctor Monygham kept Sotillo busy for days looking for that silver. In fact, the doctor was about to be executed when Barrios's men sailed into town and attacked Sotillo and his men.
- General Montero was eventually shot and killed, and Pedrito fled the country.
- Then, Mitchell describes how Nostromo's life proceeded from there. To thank Nostromo for his role in the affair, he and Mrs. Gould bought him a schooner for him to use to do business up and down the seaboard. Nostromo paid back the cost of the schooner within three years.
- Nostromo had also met with Antonia upon his return from Cayta to talk about Martin and what happened to him. Um, yeah, what did happen to him? We don't really find out, since apparently Nostromo seems to have gone all-in on the "drowned" story that Hirsch was originally peddling, and that's what Marshall had heard. Hmmm.
- The narration then floats away from Mitchell and his stories and joins up with Nostromo back in the moment he was about to arrive in Sulaco with Barrios. Oh good—now we'll find out what really happened to Martin.
- Apparently, he and Barrios had become fast friends and everything was peachy.
- As they were rolling into the harbor, however, Nostromo saw the lighter's boat floating out in the middle of the gulf, which told him something had gone wrong with Martin. He jumped overboard to go see what was up. Barrios, needless to say, was not pleased.
- When he reached the little boat, he climbed in. He noticed blood.
- Bringing it up on the beach at the Great Isabel, he went to check on the silver. It was still there, but four ingots were missing. Nostromo lamented that Martin would, it appeared, never be able to explain these strange findings.
- Then the narration shifts focus again, and we get some of the answers Nostromo was seeking. The long and short of it is that Martin was going bat-poo insane on the Great Isabel all by himself. After several days, he concluded that Nostromo was dead and probably not coming back, so he grabbed four silver ingots, took a boat out, shot himself, and rolled himself overboard. The silver served to weigh his body down.
- Now the narration flashes back to Nostromo, who wondered how Martin died. Then he tried to figure out what to do with the silver. He was resolved to keep it, musing that he would have to become wealthy slowly.
Part 3, Chapter 11
- Now we're with the doctor, who is coming off a stint of housesitting for the Goulds while they are gallivanting around the world. He goes to greet their boat and sees them home.
- They have lunch, and then he and Mrs. Gould chat for a while about the past.
- They discuss Father Corbelán, who has become Cardinal-Archbishop of Sulaco, and the influx of Protestants that Holroyd's foundation has brought to Costaguana.
- The doctor warns Mrs. Gould that people will eventually grow to resent the mine and its power as much as they had resented the political injustices that they recently fought against. This prospect naturally upsets Mrs. Gould.
- So, he tries to change the subject, saying he wants to talk to her about Nostromo, anyway. So, we get details about some recent goings-on with our favorite former sailor.
- Nostromo had returned from one of his recent business trips to discover that they were building a lighthouse on the Great Isabel. The doctor recalled that, upon hearing that news, Nostromo had suggested to Mitchell (as the O.S.N. was in charge of this project) that Viola be the caretaker.
- Apparently, the Violas jumped at this opportunity, since they wanted to get the younger Viola daughter, Giselle, away from a guy named Ramírez who had been paying her a lot of attention.
- Ramírez was forbidden from going to the island, but while looking over there one night, all lovesick for Giselle, he saw Nostromo prowling around long after Viola permitted visitors on the island. He confronted Linda (the older sister—and the one who expected to marry Nostromo someday) with his suspicions. He then disappeared from town.
- Hearing this, Mrs. Gould resolved to talk to Nostromo and advise him to marry Linda immediately to put a stop to gossip like that.
Part 3, Chapter 12
- Now we're back with Nostromo, and the narration explains that he has definitely been visiting the Great Isabel a lot, to slowly spirit away that silver supply.
- The narrator also notes in passing that Nostromo has developed a preference for Giselle, the younger Viola sister, rather than Linda, the one he was originally supposed to marry.
- Although we've already heard the doctor's version of this story, the narration describes Nostromo's reaction upon seeing they were building the lighthouse and the thought process that went into his suggestion that Giorgio become the caretaker of the lighthouse.
- Then, we learn about the evening Nostromo goes to ask Viola for one of his daughters. He had intended to ask for Giselle, but somehow ended up asking for Linda's hand. Viola and Linda were thrilled.
- However, when they were alone, Nostromo ended up admitting to Giselle that he favored her. In the process, he alerted her to the silver's existence (and the fact that he's a thief), but not its location. Wow. Love makes you do idiotic things, huh?
Part 3, Chapter 13
- Nostromo and Giselle become secret lovers from that point on. This extra bit of subterfuge seems to suit Nostromo just fine, since he is sneaking onto the island late anyway to take silver away from his hiding place.
- One day, he arrives on the island and hears from Giselle that Viola and Linda have been discussing Ramírez again.
- While they are making smoochy eyes/talk at each other, Linda comes out apparently looking pretty ragged. Nostromo asks if she was sick, and she basically replies that she is just getting old waiting for him to actually marry her.
- Then the narration dips a bit into Linda's mind, and we get her perspective on Ramírez's accusations regarding her sister and Nostromo. She believes them.
- Meanwhile, Giorgio has been on hyper-alert for Ramírez, sure he was going to visit the island in secret to see Giselle. So, when he saw a figure skulking around the island, he shoots at it. But oops—it is Nostromo, not Ramírez.
- Then the narration zooms over to Sulaco proper, where Dr. Monygham visits Mrs. Gould to let her know that Nostromo has been shot. Nostromo has asked to see her, so the doctor brought Mrs. Gould to him. The doctor is sure Nostromo has something to tell her about the silver.
- When she and Nostromo talk alone, the subject of the silver comes up quickly. Mrs. Gould asks about what had actually happened to Martin, and Nostromo is insulted that Mrs. Gould seems to think Nostromo had something to do with Martin's death.
- Nostromo then asks Mrs. Gould if she wants to know where the silver is. She said no, as she has never been a big fan of the silver or the behavior it inspires in others.
- Afterwards, the doctor asks Mrs. Gould what Nostromo had said, and she says "Nothing."
- Nostromo then dies, and the doctor rows out to the Great Isabel to tell the Violas.