Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapter 32 | Summary

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Summary

Don Quixote immediately falls asleep upon arriving at Juan Palomeque's inn for the second time. Everyone else has dinner, and Pero Perez tells Juan Palomeque and his wife about how chivalric romances have addled Don Quixote's brain. The innkeeper disagrees, saying "as far as I'm concerned there's no better reading in the whole world." The priest, concerned that the innkeeper will follow the same path to madness as the lunatic Don Quixote, wants to burn the innkeeper's books. Juan Palomeque assures the priest he won't go mad because he realizes that "things aren't the way they used to be ... when ... those famous knights [traveled] the world."

That statement troubles Sancho Panza, who never considered tales of knight-errantry to be "foolish and full of lies." As he considers going home, the priest locates a text called The Story of the Man Who Couldn't Keep from Prying and reads it aloud.

Analysis

According to the narrator of Don Quixote, one of the biggest problems with chivalric romances is that too many people believe the stories are actually true. Unable to separate fact from fiction, they honor these imaginary knights as real heroes. It's not a far leap for one to think any man with humble beginnings can rise to accomplish extraordinary feats. That sort of idealism doesn't sit well with Pero Perez, whose views align with those of the Catholic Church, which was almost all-powerful during the 16th and 17th centuries. At the time, chivalric romances and other fantasy stories were not looked upon with great favor by the Church, as they imparted no concrete morals or lessons. Even worse was that people believed those stories to be real, which set unattainable goals for regular men. In the Church's eyes, the only book worthy of such aspirations was the Bible.

The unattainable standards set forth in chivalric romances don't impact the innkeeper because he believes society has changed since those books were first written. He isn't going to pick up the lance and ride into the sunset with Don Quixote because he's a realist (though not a terribly brilliant one). To him, chivalric romances are a glimpse into an exciting and adventure-filled past, and reading them breaks up the monotony of daily life. Juan Palomeque believes the past is over and can't be brought back. Don Quixote, on the other hand, is stuck decades behind his contemporaries. It is that, and not his delusions, that make him so different from everyone else.

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