One thing to be said about chapter seventeen, it was coming for a long while. As I mentioned before, Rutejìmo had made some pretty serious mistakes and continues to make new ones. The biggest mistake is that he didn't realize what Mapábyo feels about him. I think it was pretty obvious how she felt to the reader, but for him, no.
That is one part about the world that emerged in the story: the desert folks don't talk about these things. No one explicitly told Rutejìmo, “idiot, Mapábyo is in love with you!” Of course, no one told him “you are going to be pushed to your very limits to awaken your magical powers”. Or, “you should stop obsessing about that warrior of night because she's only going to fuck you and then force you to abandon your crush.”
It is part of my own observations. You can't always tell someone not to make a mistake. No matter how much you try to warn someone, they will probably still make it. Yeah, it might end with “yeah, you told me” but those mistakes will still happen. As a culture, the desert folk just assume mistakes are made and try to “gently” guide the younger ones to the right place.
The thing is, Rutejìmo doesn't notice those. Either he is lost in his own world, struggling with his own demons, or just flat-out cluelessness. He also doesn't pick up the subtle signs that everyone else would have picked up, the million little things people say without saying words.
It would be reasonable to say Rutejìmo is probably on the autistic scale. Just a touch of it, the amount that makes it hard for him to pick up on body language and subtext. His struggles are what I've seen both in myself (not that I'm autistic, but I do have a supernatural obsession and struggle with subtle things) and others who do identify themselves as such.
I think I've done a reasonable job of presenting this without explicitly saying it. It is hard to write in third-person limited because Rutejìmo isn't aware of the full extend of his struggles.