Literature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 2 Chapters 22 24 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 22–24 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 22

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza stay with the newlyweds for three days. Don Quixote is happy for the reunited lovers, and he tries to talk Basilio into a more reputable (and profitable) line of work, saying that if Basilio were to lose Quiteria he would also lose his honor. Sancho Panza says his own wife isn't as good as he wants her to be, and she thinks the same of him.

The lunatic knight wants to visit Montesinos's Cave to see firsthand "whether it truly contained all the wondrous things everyone was always saying it did." Basilio's cousin takes them to the cave. Sancho Panza and the cousin lower Don Quixote into the abyss with 600 feet of rope. When they pull it up later, he is sound asleep. They wake him to hear what happened.

Part 2, Chapter 23

Don Quixote never made it to the bottom of the cave. He stopped at a ledge 80 feet down and took a nap. When he woke he was in a beautiful meadow. He soon met Montesinos himself, one of the famous Twelve Peers that Don Quixote so admires. Montesinos said that he, along with other knights and ladies, had been sentenced to eternal life in the cave by Merlin. Three days and nights passed while Montesinos and Don Quixote talked, and the lunatic knight even spotted the peasant girl whom Sancho Panza said was an enchanted Dulcinea del Toboso.

Sancho Panza finally figures out that his master is "clean out of his mind and as crazy as a loon," for he was the one who said the peasant girl was Dulcinea. He tells Don Quixote that he must "stop believing in this empty foolishness which turns all your senses weak and feeble!" Don Quixote calmly insists that impossible things do actually happen.

Part 2, Chapter 24

Chapter 24 begins with a note from the narrator who says the translator of Sidi Hamid Benengeli's manuscript noted in the margin how very unlikely Don Quixote's story about the cave was, yet it must be believed because Don Quixote was "the most truthful ... knight of his time, someone who would not tell a lie."

Basilio's cousin invites them to stay at a nearby hermitage for the night, but Don Quixote wishes to sleep at the inn so he can speak to a man who passed them on the road. They also meet a young man intent on joining the army. Don Quixote orates about the nobleness of the profession and invites the young man to dine with them.

Analysis

Don Quixote's dream about Montesinos brings up questions about the nature of truth. The events within the cave "exceed all reasonable bounds," even for people who believe in fantastic stories of chivalry and romance. Clearly Don Quixote made it all up, just as he made up the presence of giants in the field of windmills. Yet Don Quixote is convinced that he spoke to Montesinos. Does the fact that he believes he actually experienced it make it more true? Is truth the same thing as reality? Sancho Panza isn't sure, but he does know that his master is, without a doubt, insane or, at the very least, pretending to be insane.

The narrator's note about the validity of Don Quixote's dream hints that he knows more than he lets on about the depth of his subject's madness. He thinks Don Quixote has crossed the line from friendly lunatic to full-time fraud, as the Don's recollection of what happened in the cave pushes the limits of reality. The narrator points out that after his madness has passed, Don Quixote himself admits to making up the story "because it seemed to him it very nicely matched the adventures he had read about." This is a hint that Don Quixote isn't quite as addled as everyone believes him to be. His insanity is a conscious choice. He thinks he can achieve the impossible—becoming a famous knight-errant in a world where knights no longer exist—as long as he believes in it.

He's done his homework on the subject. Don Quixote references Merlin, a famous wizard from British lore, said to have served King Arthur. Cervantes's inclusion of British legend shows the breadth and depth of Don Quixote's obsession with chivalric romances, as well as his intricate knowledge of the genre. Unlike Pero Perez and Master Nicolas, who dislike translations and stories from other countries, Don Quixote embraces tales of chivalry from around the Western world. Had he access to stories from the Far East he probably would have loved those, too. The Don doesn't limit himself to Spanish literature, and his inclusion of stories from across Europe parallels Cervantes's own desire for a more inclusive Spanish society.

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