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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 1

Pero Perez and Master Nicolas visit Don Quixote a month into his forced retirement. At first they tiptoe around anything to do with knight-errantry so as not to cause a relapse, but the subject soon arises and Don Quixote swears "I will be a knight to the day of my death."

Master Nicolas tells a story about a madman in prison that mirrors Don Quixote's own affliction. Pero Perez wonders aloud if knights "have truly walked the earth," and Don Quixote asserts that with all the details available in historical books, how could they have not?

Part 2, Chapter 2

Sancho Panza arrives at Don Quixote's house, much to the displeasure of the Don's niece and housekeeper. They try to blame him for their lord's disappearance, but he protests that everything was Don Quixote's idea, not his. In private, Don Quixote asks Sancho Panza what people in town are saying about him. It's not good—they ridicule both master and squire. Sancho Panza then tells the Don about a college graduate named Samson Carrasco who says he has read an account of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza's exploits. Upon his master's request, Sancho Panza leaves to find the well-read scholar.

Analysis

Don Quixote is more convinced than ever that he is a knight, and he considers it his mission to restore the grandeur of the Golden Age to the present-day Iron Age. He bemoans the fact that "sloth triumphs over exertions, laziness over labor, vice over virtue." He believes chivalry will cure all that ails society. Cervantes is pointing out the decline of Spanish society, which was not widely acknowledged at the time. In hindsight he was completely correct.

Despite Don Quixote's desire to take the path of honor, he isn't above the fame and flattery that come along with knight-errantry. His desire to know what people in town are saying about him indicates that he's also in the knighthood business for the glory. He wants to be known, and he wants his story to be told. That's why he's so delighted to find out that someone has already written a book about his and Sancho Panza's adventures. Don Quixote wants to be immortalized in print just like his favorite chivalric heroes. He has no children, so he figures his only chance to leave a legacy behind is through heroic deeds.

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