Don Quixote Book II Summary and Analysis
Book II, Chapters 5-10
Book II: Chapter V - Chapter X Summaries
At the beginning of Chapter V, Cervantes adds an editorial note, indicating that the "translator" does not believe the following episode is true. This is because Sancho's dialogue is rendered in a poetic style that is not appropriate for Sancho's social class.
Sancho confronts his wife, Teresa, and announces that he is resuming his travels with Don Quixote. Teresa urges her husband to be satisfied with what he already has. Sancho Panza insists that he pursues his island so that the Panza's daughter can marry a nobleman.
While Sancho Panza talks to his wife, Don Quixote has a similar conversation with his housekeeper and niece. It seems to them that Don Quixote is embarking upon his third adventure, regardless of what they say to stop him. The housekeeper suggests that Quixote serve as a knight at the king's court, but Quixote responds that his particular calling is to be a knight-errant. Don Quixote's niece suggest that he should become a preacher, but Don Quixote says that he "would not mix things divine with human." Don Quixote concludes his argument with the supposition that: "There are two roadsby which men may arrive at riches and honors; the one by the way of letters, the other by that of arms." Don Quixote admits that he is heavily influences by the planet Mars and so, he must choose "arms."
When the housekeeper becomes convinced that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are definitely preparing for their "third sally," she summons Sampson Carrasco and asks him to intercede. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are locked together in a room, making preparations for their adventure. When Sampson Carrasco joins them, he is supposed to dissuade Don Quixote from setting out on his third adventure. Perhaps because he has so enjoyed reading of Don Quixote's exploits, Sampson actually does the opposite, encouraging knight and squire to travel the high and difficult road of fortunate, glory, and fame. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza head towards the town of Toboso, so that Don Quixote can visit Dulcinea del Toboso.
When Don Quixote and Sancho Panza set out towards Toboso, they notice that Rosinante begins to neigh and Dapple begins to sigh. The knight and squire interpret this as a good omen. Don Quixote is eager to receive Dulcinea's blessing, but he fears that nightfall will arrive before he and Sancho reach Toboso.
Sancho Panza suddenly becomes concerned, realizing that he has never met Dulcinea - and Don Quixote is relying upon Sancho to seek her out. In Chapter XXXI of Book One, Sancho Panza invented an account of meeting Dulcinea but now, Sancho stresses that he has a "shallow memory" and does not recall these details. Don Quixote continues his discussion of fame, rejecting Sancho Panza's idea that they might instead become saints of the church. Don Quixote reasons that there is an abundance' of saints, but precious "few, who deserve the name of knights." Increasing their pace, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are able to reach Toboso just as night is falling.
Toboso is a small and quite town, and Don Quixote interrupts this sleepy repose with his command to Sancho: "lead on before to Dulcinea's palace." Sancho's argument is that Dulcinea lives in a small house, not a castle, and that if Don Quixote would like to see castle in these parts, it would be easier for the knight to lead the way himself. At this point, Don Quixote admits that he has never seen "the peerless Dulcinea" and has fallen in love with her based solely upon the stories of her famous beauty. When Don Quixote stops a stranger and asks the man to direct him to the princess' castle, the confused stranger admits that the has not heard of any princesses living in the region.
Sancho Panza realizes that he cannot avoid the inevitable: Don Quixote compels him to lead the way to Dulcinea. Ultimately, Sancho conceives of a plan that might cause him the least harm. Sancho cannot "search the town for a woman" without inciting a mob, because the people of the region are known for their excessive choleric anger. Sancho's plan is only slightly more intelligent than this. Seeing three young women riding on a mule, Sancho announces that he sees Dulcinea advancing with two ladies-in-waiting.
When Don Quixote argues that he merely sees three peasant girls riding old mules, Sancho counters that an enchantment has altered Dulcinea. When the girls pass by, Sancho seizes the nearest one, calling her Dulcinea. Don Quixote worships the girl, though she is hideously ugly and Quixote is greatly saddened by her transformation.
Don Quixote has developed into a different character in Book Two, but there are some characteristics that remain consistent. The publication of his adventures has not satisfied Quixote's desire for fame and glory. In his dialogue with his niece and housekeeper, Quixote makes reference to the Pharaohs and Caesars. Just as in Book One, Don Quixote's ambitions dwarf his actual capabilities: his "grasp" extends his "reach."
In part, the narrative structure of the novel is supposed to secure Cervantes' position as the true author of Don Quixote. One of the devices that Cervantes uses is the recollection of details from Book One. In an early conversation, Don Quixote recalls the episode from Book One, Chapter XVII when Sancho Panza was tossed in a blanket by a band of rogues. In Book Two, Chapter VII, the housekeeper refers to the two occasions when Don Quixote has been brought home after his adventures. She distinctly recalls that the second, most recent time, Quixote "came home in an ox-wagon, locked up in a cage, in which he persuaded himself he was enchanted." As a parallel to Sancho's unsteady recollection of Dapple's disappearance, here we see that the housekeeper's "memory" is as clear as the original passages. Her foreshadowing words also encourage the reader to draw the logical conclusion. Don Quixote will again return home deluded, and having failed: disgraced.
To complicate the haze surrounding the "authorship" of the novel, Cervantes tells us (at the beginning of Chapter VIII) that a the beginning of his eighth chapter, Cid Hamet Ben Engeli wrote "Praised be the mighty Allah." Engeli repeated this phrase three times because he was overjoyed that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza "had again taken the field." "From this moment, the exploits and witty sayings of Don Quixote and his squire begin," we are told. Both Cervantes (in Book One) and Don Quixote (in Book Two) articulate their distrust in the Moorish inventor of the story, because they believe Moors to be distrustful. Setting aside the prejudiced excuse that is offered, the reader should be prepared for the deliberately unsteady and intentionally complicated narrative structure that follows.
One of the most significant details that we learn about Don Quixote is the fact that he has never seen Dulcinea. Arguing with Sancho Panza, Quixote calls his squire a "heretic," a word that refers to an individual who does not believe in a specified religious doctrine. Quixote's faith in Dulcinea, a faith that requires no visual evidence, parallels Sancho's religious faith. Indeed, Sancho's belief in his island and Don Quixote's persistent belief in the possibility of winning honor are variants of the same characteristic. Here, the novel suggests that just as society accepts certain forms of "faith" as morally acceptable, society might credit Don Quixote for being a man who is capable of faith - even if his well-intentioned delusions are misguided.
Sancho's deception recalls the antics of Don Quixote's friends in Book One. Then, as now, Don Quixote's friends feel compelled to support Quixote's delusions (in this case, Sancho creates a Dulcinea for his master). The "transformation" of Don Quixote's Dulcinea into an ugly peasant girl (with a hairy eight-inch mole) really underscores the novel's underlying "tragicomic" mood. In Book Two, it becomes clearer that the gaps between Don Quixote's high-minded ideals and the reality upon which he projects his ideals are evidence of Quixote's delusion.
But perhaps more important, these gaps expose the ugly failings of the "real world." Dulcinea is a name that Don Quixote deliberately chooses for aesthetic purposes: it means "sweet." When Sancho Panza randomly chooses a girl to stand in as Dulcinea, reality plays a cruel joke: an ugly girl with a hairy mole and a horrible smell.
We can best understand the increasingly pessimistic and modern tone of Book Two by juxtaposing this scene with an episode from Book One, Chapter XVI. While at an inn that he presumed to be an "enchanted castle," Don Quixote believed that a beautiful princess intended to greet him in his bed. In reality, Don Quixote embraced Maritornes, a half-blind hunchbacked woman who smelled very bad. Because Don Quixote was deep in his delusion, he enjoyed this encounter. Here in Book Two, Don Quixote's delusion isn't strong enough to wrap around the rough edges of reality's offerings.
Finally, there is some intellectual development on Sancho's part. Sancho is still loyal to his master but in Book Two, Sancho is willing to deceive Don Quixote as his equal. Sancho Panza was willing to lie in Book One, but in Book Two, Sancho is willing to claim his lie to be an "enchantment," as Don Quixote's other friends had done in Book One. In Book Two, Sancho Panza becomes an equal player: one of the character s permitted to create imaginations for others.
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