In this long chapter, containing mostly dialogue, the Ribierists gather at the Gould house and shakily try to bolster their confidence in the cause, in the face of the patent untrustworthiness of Barrios. The reader knows that their confidence is misplaced, having already witnessed in Part One Ribiera's downfall. This lends credence to the voice of the lone dissenter, Decoud, who before and during the gathering gives full vent to his skepticism.
The bulk of the chapter is taken up with a symbolic seduction/argument between him and Antonia, in which he tries to woo her away from her committment to greater ideals, namely the cause of Costaguana patriotism. Their dialogue is a thematic centerpiece to the novel, pitting skepticism and idealism against each other in a direct confrontation. She defends patriotism as a conquering dream-ideal because it is the only alternative to victimization, and because the ideal inspires acts of heroism and courage. He reviles it as an endless round of barbaric carnage, a "great beast," ultimately a fultile endeavor because it is an illusory union covering the reality of disparate subjective ideals, which he mercilessly dissects in the persons of Charles Gould, Emily Gould and Father Corbelan. In place of "higher" idealism, Decoud submits the "supreme illusion": love.
Antonia is swayed but not convinced, and in the process of the argument Decoud
conceives something of a compromise, his plan of Separation for the Occidental
Province which he will present to Mrs Gould in the next chapter.