Don Quixote Book I

Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 7-10

Buy Study Guide

Book I: Chapter 7-Chapter 10 Summaries

Chapter 7

Don Quixote has been brought back to his home in La Mancha, but he has not let go of his imaginations. Quixote still believes that he is a knight-errant and he will not be convinced otherwise. Quixote's niece, his housekeeper, the barber and the priest are discussing which books need to be burned when Quixote interrupts them. Specifically, Quixote is upset because they have blocked his entrance to the library. After the gentleman is put to bed, the housekeeper burns the books.

Don Quixote is looking for his books a few days later, but of course, he cannot find them. The housekeeper sees Quixote searching for his library and she tells him that there is no point in looking for the books‹because "the devil himself has carried all away." The niece explains that it wasn't the devil, but a sage named Muñaton. The niece and the housekeeper have already decided what they would tell Quixote. Don Quixote explains to his niece that the sage was named Friston, not Muñaton. Friston has taken Quixote's books because of a rivalry between Quixote and one of Friston's powerful knights.

Quixote's niece perceives that her plan has backfired: her uncle is determined to leave home again and he will not be persuaded to do otherwise. Traveling into town, Don Quixote meets Sancho Panza, a commoner, and convinces Sancho to serve as his squire. Sancho Panza is hesitant to leave his wife, Teresa, but Quixote convinces Panza that there are treasures to be won. At the very least, Panza will likely become the Governor of an island.

Chapter 8

On this, his second journey, Quixote is no less plagued by absurd imaginations. Traveling the countryside, Quixote soon stumbles into "the dreadful and never-before-imagined adventure of the windmills." Quixote prepares for "lawful war" against an army of giants, despite Sancho Panza's urgent warnings. Sancho realizes that Quixote's "giants" are merely windmills. Quixote insists upon charging at the windmills and he falls to the ground, when his lance jams into the sails of the windmill. Quixote is not badly hurt, though his horse, Rocinante, is more seriously wounded.

When it becomes clear to Quixote that this is a field of windmills, he argues that an evil enchanter has transformed the giants into windmills in order to rob Quixote of a dashing victory.

Chapter 9

Armed with a tree branch (to replace the broken lance), Quixote continues on his quest. On a side road, Quixote attacks two monks who are accompanying a lady. Quixote argues that the lady has been kidnapped and is imprisoned in her carriage. Sancho tries to dissuade the knight, but he is unsuccessful. Sancho then joins in the battle and attempts to steal the monks' clothes. At this point, the monks' servants intervene and give Sancho a rather serious beating. Quixote is wounded in the ear, but he nearly kills one of the lady's attendants, a man called "the valiant Biscainer." Staying true to the code of chivalry, Quixote says that he will spare the attendant's life if the man agrees to "present himself before the peerless Dulcinea, that she may dispose of him as she shall think fit." The company of the lady, her attendants, the monks and their servants are all bewildered by Quixote's request. Nonetheless, they enthusiastically agree to Quixote's demands because they can see that he is dangerous.

Chapter 10

After the two groups part ways, Sancho asks to become governor of his island. Quixote cannot yet make good on this promise, but he assures Sancho that their rewards and treasures will come soon.

Analysis

The scene in Chapter 8, when Quixote perceives the windmills as giants, is perhaps the most famous scene of the novel. Don Quixote's imagination turns the dull Spanish countryside into a magical place. Jostling between Sancho and Quixote's point-of-view, the reader sees the juxtaposition of an ordinary landscape and an absurd daydream. Because Cervantes shows us what Quixote sees, it is easier for us to empathize with the knight. At the same time, we can also understand why Sancho feels so confused by his irrational master.

Sancho Panza is described as "honest, poor, shallow-brained" and he becomes Don Quixote's squire. Panza is not deluded, but he has too much faith in Don Quixote and the squire will suffer for it. As a practical man, Sancho Panza fears the Holy Brotherhood once Don Quixote has committed violence against the Benedictine monks. Quixote, an educated man, is unable to grasp reality. On the other hand, Quixote is so well-versed in the nuances of chivalry and adventures that he is able to correct his niece when she incorrectly names the evil sage: "Friston he meant to sayŠ" This especially ironic because the niece is lying, simply repeating a story she has already rehearsed. Literacy is also expressed as an issue of social "class' in the interactions between Quixote and his squire. When Sancho raises a concern, Quixote can pose the question: "Have you read in storyŠ?" This effectively silences Sancho and foreshadows the point in the novel when Quixote commands Sancho not to speak.

Don Quixote is determined to follow the texts that he has read, even if that means breaking the law and violating the religious codes and morals of his society. So far, Quixote proves to be rather orthodox and unswerving in regards to following the text. There is tension between the projects of the author-narrator and the main character. At one point, Quixote says to his squire: "Sancho, let not that trouble you, which gives me pleasure; nor endeavor to make a new world, or to throw knight-errantry off its hinges." In a sense, the hero only wants to duplicate and share the glories of the previous knights. But this recalls Cervantes' own tongue-in-cheek explanation of why he published Don Quixote. As stated in the Prologue, the novel is intended "to destroy the authority and acceptance the books of chivalry have had in the world."

The two major themes in this section are delusion and deception. Quixote's experience with the windmills is definitive of delusion and the motif of "mills" will recur several times in the novel. The theme of deception is initiated once Don Quixote is deceived by his friends and family. This will continue throughout Books I and II. Indeed, it will become important to separate the "delusion" of Quixote from the "deception" of others, if only because both run rampant. Quixote's friends and loved ones ultimately spend considerable time and energy deceiving Quixote as a means of protecting our hero from himself.