Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 1 Chapters 15 17 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapters 15–17 | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 15

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza take a break from their search for Marcela. Rocinante spies some female ponies and decides to have a little fun. He is beaten to the ground by their angry owners. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza spring to his defense, but Sancho Panza quickly realizes they can't beat 20 men. Don Quixote assures him, "I'm worth a hundred" and charges the muledrivers. Sancho Panza joins him.

They suffer a brutal defeat. Sancho Panza wants to go home, but Don Quixote just wants to find a place to sleep for the night. Contrary to his previous assertions, he would rather not sleep under the stars, which is appropriate only when knights "can't do any better, or when they're in love." They find an inn down the road. The Don thinks it's a castle.

Part 1, Chapter 16

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are patched up by the innkeeper's wife, her daughter, and their maid, Maritornes, who reappears in the middle of the night to visit the muledriver with whom Don Quixote and Sancho Panza share a room. In the dark, Don Quixote mistakenly thinks she is the innkeeper's daughter, a princess, coming to visit him. He embraces her, telling her they cannot be together because he loves Dulcinea del Toboso.

Maritornes struggles to get away from him. The jilted muledriver punches and tramples Don Quixote. The Don's bed collapses, waking the innkeeper. Maritornes hides in Sancho Panza's bed, and they end up punching one another. The innkeeper joins in, certain Maritornes is at fault for all of this. The local police captain, also staying at the inn, finds an unconscious Don Quixote and declares that someone has died.

Part 1, Chapter 17

Upon regaining consciousness, Don Quixote tells Sancho that the "invisible" blows came from a Moorish enchanter protecting the princess. In great pain, Don Quixote decides it is finally time to make Fierabras's balm, a potion that will allegedly cure any ailment, including being cut in half. The innkeeper gives him oil, wine, salt, and rosemary. The Don drinks the mixture, becomes violently ill, then sleeps for three hours. He feels restored when he wakes. Sancho Panza drinks some of the balm, and the effects are so bad he thinks he's going to die. Unlike his master, he feels awful afterward. This, says Don Quixote, is because Sancho Panza isn't a knight.

Don Quixote is ready to hit the road. The innkeeper requests payment, and the Don is surprised to find out he's at an inn, not a castle. He insults the innkeeper and rides away on Rocinante, leaving Sancho Panza behind. The innkeeper and the other guests extract payment from Sancho Panza by placing him on a blanket and tossing him into the air over and over again. The innkeeper takes the saddlebags from Sancho Panza's donkey as he flies through the air.

Analysis

Don Quixote's idealism is an armor that protects him from the consequences of his actions and deflects them onto a defenseless Sancho Panza. Sancho Panza is severely beaten thanks to his master's need to avenge a horse's honor, then he is beaten again when his master mistakes Maritornes for a princess. He drinks less of the "curative balm" than his master and becomes even more sick, then he is tortured for his master's refusal to pay for lodging.

Sancho Panza isn't the only person who suffers at the hands of his master's idealism and notions of honor. The innkeeper loses out on income, and his attic bedroom is destroyed. Maritornes is beaten by her employer and Sancho Panza over a case of mistaken identity. Through it all, Don Quixote always comes out unscathed.

This is partly because he is constantly changing the rules of knighthood to suit the situation at hand. He was an ardent proponent of sleeping under the stars just a few days ago, but he easily explains away those choices when he is hungry and injured. His rational mind knows that an inn means warmth, comfort, and safety, all things he craves after his and Sancho Panza's brutal beating. Though he seems completely crazy to onlookers, there is still a logical part of Don Quixote's brain working hard to protect him from further danger. He adheres to the parts of knight-errantry that seem noble and heroic, but he always manages to sidestep the more unpleasant aspects of his new profession. This is yet another indicator that Don Quixote consciously chose to become a knight-errant despite society's expectations.

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