Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 1 Chapter 4 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapter 4 | Summary

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Summary

Don Quixote heads home for clean shirts, money, and a squire. He sees Andrés tied to a tree, being whipped by his employer. Don Quixote insists that the farmer set Andrés free and pay him what he is owed. Upon Don Quixote's departure, Andrés is tied to the tree again and "whipped ... so hard that [the farmer] left him for dead."

Further down the road, the Don gets into a fight with a group of merchants about Dulcinea del Toboso's beauty. He falls off Rocinante and can't get up due to the weight of his armor.

Analysis

Don Quixote stands up for what he thinks is right, but his code of conduct isn't in sync with the accepted ethics of the early 17th century. In his mind, there is a clear distinction between right and wrong. He doesn't stop to consider that the boy being whipped actually deserves his punishment, nor does he recognize the futility of fighting about a woman's beauty. His compulsive need to defend the honor of all those who have been wronged causes more trouble for everyone, a recurring theme in the book.

Cervantes uses Don Quixote's ignorance about current social and cultural norms to ridicule the morals portrayed in traditional chivalric romances. A man who only experiences life through the pages of a book has no concept of acceptable behavior in normal society, and such idealism will injure both himself and others.

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