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Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 40–41 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 40

Lady Dolorida tells Don Quixote and Sancho Panza about the magical wooden horse with a peg in its neck that will take them to Malambruno. Sancho Panza doesn't want to go because it would mean sitting on a hard seat for a long time. It would also mean helping the dueñas whom Sancho Panza so despises. He eventually agrees to go after Lady Dolorida tells of the sad and lonely life afflicting all ladies-in-waiting born into their position.

Part 2, Chapter 41

The wooden horse, Clavileño, is brought into the garden. Sancho Panza is finally convinced to climb aboard, and master and squire are blindfolded. All manner of tricks are used to make the men think they are flying through the sky and close to the sun before the fireworks stashed inside the wooden horse are ignited. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza fall to the ground, and everyone watching in the garden pretends to faint. Sancho Panza tells everyone that he was able to peek under his blindfold and see how high they were flying, then says that he hopped off Clavileño for awhile to romp with some goats. Out of earshot of the others, Don Quixote tells Sancho Panza that for him to believe Sancho's visions, Sancho must also believe "what I think I saw in Montesinos's Cave."

Analysis

It's hard to say why Sancho Panza tells everyone that he cavorted with goats in the clouds. Perhaps he hallucinated. Perhaps he's going crazy. But the most likely explanation is that Sancho Panza desperately wants to be liked by the Duke and Duchess, whose luxurious lifestyle is more than agreeable to the beleaguered squire. Sancho Panza doesn't care what he has to do to continue living in the lap of luxury, even if it means acting like he, too, is insane. Yet these lies don't mean he's an idealist. He's more of a realist than ever, recognizing exactly what he needs to do to secure the favor of the wealthy nobles.

While Sancho Panza is willing to lie to make himself more interesting, Don Quixote isn't. Hailed as one of the most truthful people around, if Don Quixote says he saw something, then he definitely saw it (whether it's real or not is still up for debate). In truth, reality doesn't hold much sway over Don Quixote. He notes that even if someone was trying to deceive them about the journey on the wooden horse, it wouldn't matter—"no malice in the world can dim the glory of having undertaken the great deed." It is the perception of doing great things that gets Don Quixote excited about being a knight. They don't actually have to happen.

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