HomeLiterature Study GuidesDon QuixotePart 2 Chapters 4951 Summary

Don Quixote | Study Guide

Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote | Part 2, Chapters 49–51 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 49

Sancho Panza tells his steward, the doctor, and his scribes about his plans for Barataria Island. He wants to "protect ... peasants, help well-bred people keep what they've got, reward all those who are virtuous," and preserve Christianity. His steward is impressed.

Sancho Panza and his staff patrol the city. They meet a variety of characters, both those assigned roles in the great prank on Sancho Panza and those who are simply townspeople in need of help. Once more, Sancho Panza proves himself to be a wise and fair ruler.

Part 2, Chapter 50

The reader learns that Doña Rodríguez and Don Quixote were attacked by Altisidora and the Duchess who were eavesdropping in the hallway. The Duchess didn't like the fact that Doña Rodríguez was telling people the Duchess had "artificial ulcers in her legs."

The Duchess's page arrives in Sancho Panza's hometown and meets Sanchica, Sancho's daughter, who takes the page home to her mother. The letter from Sancho Panza is read aloud to Teresa, as well as a letter from the Duchess, who has sent along Sancho Panza's green riding habit and a coral and gold rosary. Master Nicolas and Pero Perez get wind of Sancho Panza's governorship and visit the Panzas to find out what's going on. They can tell that the page is purposefully being sly, but they don't know why. Pero Perez invites the page to come to his house for dinner.

Part 2, Chapter 51

Sancho Panza hears another case on an almost-empty stomach and governs so wisely that his steward promises to provide him with a hearty lunch no matter what the doctor says. A letter from Don Quixote arrives, full of more counsel for the new governor. Don Quixote mentions that he's thinking of leaving the Duke and Duchess's castle. Sancho Panza writes back, saying that his new position might kill him for lack of food and comfort.

Sancho Panza spends the rest of the afternoon making new laws pertaining to the price of shoes, the singing of rude songs, and the testing of poor people to see if they are really poor or if they are con artists. The laws, known as The Great Governor Sancho Panza's Legal System, are still in effect today.

Analysis

Sancho Panza is proving to be a much better governor than anyone anticipated. His steward remarks that "jokes turn into truths, and jokers find that they're the ones being fooled." He and the rest of Sancho Panza's staff are no longer laughing at their new superior; they're impressed with his fairness, open-mindedness, and complete lack of guile. Sancho Panza is a far better leader than anyone they've experienced before, and the steward, in particular, is feeling guilty about the pranks he helped play on such a good man.

Though Sancho Panza is excelling in his governorship, he is realizing that it probably isn't the right fit for him. He prefers the freedom of home or even the open road to the restrictive lifestyle of a government official. Money and power are nice, but they are too confining for a man who prefers to live according to his own whims. His wife was right—you can't change who you are, no matter how much you want to become someone else.

Teresa, however, doesn't heed her own advice. Not too long ago she had warned Sancho Panza about the pitfalls of rising in status—everyone looking, everyone gossiping—but now she wants to parade her newfound position as governor's wife in front of everyone. She feels the same elation that Sancho Panza felt when he was still dreaming about governing an island. Cervantes is pointing out that the hope of something new is often better than actually getting it. Nearly everyone daydreams about what it would be like to be rich and famous, but as Sancho Panza's experiences show, the reality of the situation doesn't live up to the hype. "Common" people can be just as happy, if not more so, than their privileged counterparts.

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