Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 1 Chapters 7 8 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 1, Chapters 7–8 | Summary

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Summary

Part 1, Chapter 7

The priest and the barber-surgeon build a wall over the doorway to Don Quixote's library while he sleeps. They instruct the niece and the housekeeper to tell him that a magician had come while he was asleep and carried the books away. Don Quixote immediately searches for the books upon waking, but he accepts his niece's explanation and offers that this magician is actually a great enemy of his.

He spends the next 15 days at home, secretly making preparations to continue his adventure. He sells some of his belongings, borrows a shield, and hires a farmer, Sancho Panza, to be his squire. They leave town under the cover of darkness.

Part 1, Chapter 8

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza come across a field of windmills, which the Don thinks are giants. He charges into battle, breaking his lance. He assures Sancho Panza that the giants were changed into windmills by an enemy magician. Sancho Panza eats dinner as they ride, and they sleep in a field.

The next morning, Don Quixote attacks two Benedictine friars whom he thinks are kidnapping a princess. Sancho Panza is beaten for taking one of the friars' robes, and Don Quixote enters a duel with the woman's page, a Basque, who says the Don isn't actually a knight. The reader is left with a cliffhanger as the narrator tries to locate the rest of the story.

Analysis

Cervantes's introduction of Sancho Panza illustrates the distinction between insanity and idiocy. Sancho Panza, who is "not very well endowed from the neck up," is convinced that a nearly 50-year-old man on an ancient horse is going to make him the governor of an island. He's not crazy, but he's not very bright, either. Yet he remains logical in the face of danger—namely when he promises to stay out of Don Quixote's way during battle with another knight. This promise is not out of respect for the Don but rather out of Sancho's own desire for safety. Though he pledges loyalty to his master, he thinks about himself first.

Like the priest, Sancho Panza is a realist. He focuses on the small comforts in life: food, wine, money, and travel by pack animal. He eats when he is hungry, and he sleeps when he is tired. Don Quixote, on the other hand, overlooks basic necessities in favor of the ideal lifestyle of a knight. He stays awake all night thinking of Dulcinea "in order to fulfill what he'd read in his books," and takes no meals, instead "sustaining himself with delightful memories."

Sancho Panza is a foil, or contrast, for Don Quixote, who is hard for the audience to like. He uses the Don to achieve his greedy desires, which allows the audience to cast more sympathy onto Don Quixote.

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