“The first thing you must always, always bear in mind at every moment and under any circumstances is that you must keep up appearances. Look, chulita, I’m not dying until I’m sure I’ve planted this notion firmly in your head. Learn my words by heart and say them every morning right after the Lord’s prayer.”
Like a language teacher who repeats a declination to his pupils, hammering in the syllables one by one as if here nailing them into their brains, Don Evaristo, right hand raised, as if it were a hammer pounding steadily against a wall, slowly nailed these words into his pupil’s mind:
“Keeping … up … appearances; following … the rules; showing … the respect … we owe each other … and above all … never losing control, you hear? … never losing control” (as the teacher repeated this last rule, his hand was suspended in the air; his eyebrows arched halfway up his forehead; and his eyes which were extremely bright, emphasized the importance he placed on this part of the lesson), “never losing control, you can do whatever you like.”
Fortunata’s stay at the convent was to give her the appearances of respectability, putting a coat of whitewash on her past. She immediately falls into Juan’s arms, who presented a shortened version of Feijóo’s philosophy back in Volume Two: “You can do what you like as long as you’re discreet.” Juan has already learned Feijóo’s rules and perfected them. Being the “Dauphin,” though, helps him in his extramarital escapades. Fortunata’s past and reputation count against her, especially after the whitewashing fails.
Update: the last paragraph was left off the original posting: Mauricia also understood the philosophy to some extent and had tried to coach Fortunata while they were still in the convent, although she failed to include many points that made Feijóo's philosophy complete:
“Once you’re a nice little married lady you can do as you please—and keep the fringe benefits that go with ‘properness.’ A single woman’s a slave; she can’t even go where she wants. The ones that get themselves an excuse for a husband have carte blanche for everything.”