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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 19–21 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 19

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza meet two university students who tell of the upcoming wedding of Quiteria the Beautiful and Camacho the Rich. It promises to be an interesting affair due to the presence of the angry and jealous Basilio. The men discuss the necessity of good matrimonial pairings.

One of the students, Corchuelo, challenges the other student to a fencing match. The other student is a skilled fencer who has studied the sport endlessly, but Corchuelo thinks he can win by brawn alone. He is defeated and admits that skill is more important than strength.

Part 2, Chapter 20

The wedding party begins early in the morning, and Sancho Panza marvels at the vast quantity of food being prepared under the tent, all paid for by Camacho the Rich. Don Quixote and his squire enjoy dance and theatrical performances, the latter of which is a commentary on the importance of both money and love. Sancho Panza is convinced that Basilio doesn't have a chance with Quiteria—he's betting everything on Camacho and his wealth.

Part 2, Chapter 21

The bride and groom's arrival is quickly followed by the appearance of Basilio, who tells Quiteria that sacred law prevents her marrying Camacho "as long as I'm alive." He impales himself on a sword. The priest wishes to hear his last confession, but the fading Basilio will only do so if Quiteria promises to take his hand in marriage for however briefly he lives. He demands she marries him not as a "polite formality" but "because you want to confess and declare that you surrender [your hand] of your own free will." She agrees, and the priest blesses the marriage.

Basilio jumps to his feet, suddenly cured. It turns out his impalement was just a trick, accomplished with an iron tube and blood. The marriage is declared null, but Quiteria asserts that it is real and marries him all over again. Camacho's friends are ready to fight, but Camacho decides he's better off without Quiteria. The party continues as a show of goodwill. Basilio, Quiteria, and their friends decide to leave anyway and take Don Quixote and Sancho Panza with them.

Analysis

Sancho Panza's views about love are colored by his desire for money and his low station in life. He thinks Camacho will be the winner of Quiteria's heart namely because he is wealthy, for Sancho Panza would surely choose a wealthy gentleman over a peasant for his own daughter. This contrasts with his wife, who thinks "birds of a feather flock together" and everyone should marry someone like themselves.

Don Quixote's ideas about marriage are closer to Teresa Panza's than her husband. He thinks a couple needs to be well matched not only in status but also in temperament, comparing choosing a spouse to choosing a traveling companion. Yet he also thinks that "love and affection have a way of blinding" people, which prevents them from making good matches themselves. They should instead rely on Heaven to do it.

Cervantes offers several stories-within-the-story that point to the headaches caused by romance, but the couples who truly love one another are the happiest. Money and status may make a good match, but a good foundation of mutual respect and admiration is far more valuable when it comes to happiness.

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