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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapters 2–3 | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 2

Don Quixote leaves home astride Rocinante before remembering that he's not actually a real knight. He vows to "have himself properly dubbed" by the first knight he sees. He stops for the evening at an inn, which he thinks is a castle. Two prostitutes, whom he believes to be "maidens," help him out of his armor. They can't remove his neck piece or helmet so he leaves them on. The helmet's visor doesn't stay up on its own, so someone else has to feed him while he holds it up. Oblivious to the laughter surrounding him, Don Quixote believes he's being pampered in a luxurious castle.

Part 1, Chapter 3

Don Quixote beseeches the innkeeper, whom he has decided is also a knight, to grant him knighthood the next morning. The innkeeper, confused but willing to have some fun, agrees. Don Quixote intends to stay up all night keeping watch over his armor, which he lays atop a trough. A visiting muledriver tries to move the armor; Don Quixote knocks out the muledriver and cracks the skull of one of the muledriver's friends. The muledriver's other friends start throwing stones, and the innkeeper decides it's time to start the ceremony. It is brief, and Don Quixote and Rocinante get back on the road.

Analysis

Chapters 2 and 3 show the extent of Don Quixote's insanity. He sees castles where others see run-down inns; he believes sly innkeepers are valiant knights. Don Quixote believes in his fantasy so wholeheartedly that it is impossible for him to acknowledge any other reality. Everyone thinks he is crazy, even the narrator, who says in Chapter 2 that Don Quixote rode so slowly under the hot sun "that it would have melted his brains, if he'd had anything." These personal asides and pithy quips sprinkled throughout the text prevent the reader from feeling too sorry for Don Quixote. The narrator deliberately shies away from presenting the titular hero as a charity case to be pitied, instead positioning him as a quirky character who isn't bothered by the laughter trailing him wherever he goes.

The laughter never really lasts long, anyway, because it turns out that the Don is actually a rather good knight, or at least a formidable fighter. This is unsettling to the innkeeper and the reader, who both start to question if Don Quixote is indeed insane or just playing a joke. The innkeeper, for one, is glad to be rid of the lunatic knight. Despite his age and charming manner, Don Quixote is dangerous not only to those he perceives as threats but also to the innkeeper's business. If word gets out that an old man on a lame horse beat up a group of young goatherds on his property, the innkeeper will be the laughingstock of the countryside.

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