About the ending to The Passion of Dolssa (Spoiler alert!)
I’ve never done this before in my career, but I have decided to write a few hints to help readers who may be left with questions at the conclusion of The Passion of Dolssa. I don’t like spoilers, but I don’t want to leave anyone in the dark. If you’ve read the book already, and want to know more, read on.
I’m going to spell this out with a handful of questions and answers.
A: No. The text is still referring to itself as a collection of records, now brought into modernity with a new writer who picks up where Friar Arnaut leaves off. The writer is a fictional character, whose appearance in the novel is inspired in part by the motif that Dolssa's final triumph is an ability to have her silenced story be told, even far beyond the grave.
Q: Who is Botille talking to as she relates her entire story?
A: An unnamed inquisitor.
Q: What does Botille continually do to try to protect those she loves?
A: She lies. She invents a story and lures you in with its believability. Remember this: you can’t fully trust Botille.
How are we doing so far? That might be enough. If not, proceed.
Q: Why does Botille need to lie?
A: Because association with a heretic means you are a heretic. So there’s no hope of mercy for anyone known to have associated with Dolssa, and, by extension, Botille herself.
Q: What, then, is the best way Botille can lie to protect those she loves? Hint: she tried to save Dolssa this way once. It involved Felipa de Prato. But it didn’t work.
A: She tells the inquisitors they are dead.
Got it yet? Think. You will. But if not, I surrender. Here’s the full spoiler.
Symo and Bertran aren’t dead. They’re alive and well. Botille, knowing she would be executed for her testimony, makes one last Hail Mary pass to try to save them. As she comes to the close of her story to the inquisitors, she kills off her husband and son, hoping to stall the hunt for them just long enough to get a message to them. She is the woman in the basement of the church, waiting to be executed, and Fernando Diaz is her only hope of saving her loved ones.