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Don Quixote Book II Summary and Analysis

by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Book II, Chapters 19-21

Book II: Chapter XIX - Chapter XXI Summaries

Chapter XIX

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza leave Don Diego's house and, on the road, they encounter a group of four men: two ecclesiastics and two country fellows. Don Quixote introduces himself both as Don Quixote and as "The Knight of the Lions." The two ecclesiastical scholars quickly see that Quixote is crazy. The four men are on their way to a wedding. The beautiful Quiteria the Fair will soon marry Camacho the Rich, whose wealthy "solders up an abundance of flaws." A man named Basilius truly loves Quiteria. Although, Basilius is not wealthy, he is extremely handsome. Quiteria's parents have decided that she will marry Camacho, however. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza accompany the four men to the village where the wedding will take place.

Chapter XX

Just as the travelers predicted, Basilius makes a scene at Quiteria's wedding. After giving a short and eloquent speech, Basilius stabs himself with a dagger. This suicidal act places Basilius' soul in danger of eternal damnation. Despite the hasty suggestions of the officiating priest, Basilius refuses to make a confession. Basilius then relents, and agrees to confess if Quiteria will marry him. Then, she can wed Camacho as the "widow of the brave Basilius."

Chapter XXI

Those attending the wedding urge Quiteria to quickly wed Basilius before he dies. Quiteria truly loves Basilius and so she freely agrees. After vows are exchanged, Basilius reveals that his wound is slight and his injury intentional: it is "a stratagem."

Camacho decides to kill Basilius but Don Quixote intervenes, arguing that "it is not fit to take revenge for the injuries done us by love." Quixote adds that Basilius' strategy was to be expected by Camacho, for in love, as in war, "it is lawful and customary to employ cunning and stratagems to defeat the enemy." Camacho relents and Basilius and Quiteria are happy with the turn of events.

Analysis

In these chapters, Don Quixote does not have an actual destination, and his course is utterly unpredictable. In much of Book One, the narrative structure was defined by the introduction of minor characters who were often travelers visiting an inn ("castle") where Quixote lodged. These minor characters would then give us a "story within a story," most notably "The Novel of the Curious Impertinent." In Book Two, the narrative structure is modified to address the critique that Don Quixote leveled against The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha in Chapter III: There were too many "digressions" in the first part of the story. Here in Book Two, the narrative structure follows the rambling course of Quixote's adventures. Certainly, Cervantes' need to rebut and "undo" the imposter novel's scenes is one major reason for this shift.

Sancho Panza and Don Quixote reveal their philosophical differences in the discussion of Quiteria's intended marriage to Camacho. Don Quixote cites the romances of chivalry and bemoans the lack of true love to bind the union. Conversely, Sp commends the prudence of Quiteria's parents. The reader should recall Sancho Panza's discussion with his wife Teresa in Book Two, Chapter V. Against Teresa's insistence, Sancho seeks the governance of an island so that he can marry his daughter off to a nobleman. Teresa's argument, that women are unhappy when they marry out of their class, is a pragmatic critique of Sancho's equally pragmatic argument. Though they disagree with each other, the Panzas share a pragmatism that is wholly unlike Don Quixote's lofty notions of "true love."

One wonders whether Basilius has read The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha, as his shallow stab-wound trick recalls the ruse that Camilla uses to deceive her husband, Anselmo, in "the Novel of the Curious Impertinent" (Book One, Chapter XXXIV).

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