Don Quixote Book II

Don Quixote Book II Summary and Analysis of Book II, Chapters 40-44

Book II: Chapter XL - Chapter XLIV Summaries

Chapter XL

Sancho has great sympathy for the bearded duennas, who have been cursed by Malambruno. Malambruno's prophecy indicates that a wooden horse, motored by a pin in its forehead, will arrive on scene when the "true knight" of deliverance has been found. As the knight is blindfolded and then transported by this magical flying horse, the beards will trimmed.

Chapter XLI

The horse, Clavileño the Winged, is built for two people to ride and when the horse does indeed arrive, escorted by four "savages," there is great celebration. Sancho refuses to ride, as he is neither courageous nor a knight. Don Quixote is embarrassed by Don Quixote's resistance, and the Duke reiterates his promises of island governance, coaxing the squire to join his master on the horse. Sancho pities the bearded women too much to refuse them, and so he submits to being blindfolded and rides behind Don Quixote. Quixote turns the forehead-pin and after a few rickety minutes (and the copious laughter of onlookers), the horse's tail is lit, and firecrackers explode from Clavileño's belly. Knight and squire are tossed into the garden.

Chapter XLII

Sancho claims that the enchantment transported him to a pasture where he played with seven little she-goats for about forty-five minutes. Quixote says that they passed the region of air and brushed up against the region of fire, but as they were not burnt, they must have gone through the fiery region towards heaven - where Sancho's she-goats are. Quixote privately says to Sancho: "since you would have us believe all you have seen in heaven, I expect you should believe what I saw in Montesinos' cave."

The duke and duchess decide that it is time to send Sancho to his island, and before Sancho leaves, Quixote gives him advice. Quixote mainly speaks of luck and birth, and stresses that Sancho should remain true to his peasant roots. He then recites a long list of proverbs but when Sancho says that he cannot remember all of them, Quixote mourns the fact that the squire cannot read or write.

Chapter XLIII - XLIV

Preparing to leave, Sancho sees the Duke's steward and perceives that this man has played the role of Countess Trifaldi. Quixote sees a resemblance and does not grasp the implications. Sancho is highly suspicious as he heads for his "island."


Narrative accuracy is a thematic concern that returns in Chapter 40. Cervantes tells us to be "thankful to [the] original author, Cid Hamet, for his curious exactness in recording the minutest circumstancesŠ without omitting anything." Similarly, in Chapter 41, Quixote is given an "inscription on parchment" as soon as he dismounts the horse, Clavileño. This is a sensitive moment: Quixote may quickly unravel his deception as he has been wounded and half-singed. Instead, he receives a parchment whose first words are so reassuring, an affirmation of the delusion: "The renowned knight Don Quixote de la Mancha has finished and achieved the adventured of the Countess TrifaldiŠ" This serves to substantiate the claim that the duennas were, in fact, cursed with beards. This also foreshadows the explicit conflict between narratives that begins in Chapter LIX, when Cervantes begins to engage Avellaneda directly.

The motif of the wooden horse is borrowed from Homer's Iliad. Odysseus (Ulysses) and the Greeks were able to win the Trojan War once and for all by hiding themselves inside of a giant wooden horse. The Trojans perceived it to be a gift, though when they rolled the horse into the city, they learned a fatal lesson about accepting gifts from strangers (let alone enemies). Here, the horse is dangerous though not fatal. What is important is that the horse is manufactured for the purposes of deception. The manufactured horse is described as a machine ("mount the machine"). it is a mechanical expression of the same false aesthetic that we find in Sancho's new island "island ready made, round and sound, and well proportioned" - though fake.

Sancho's "enchantment" in the garden is never resolved. We know that Don Quixote suffers from illusions and that the mechanical horse was deliberately constructed. We also know that Sancho has previously lied, claiming that Dulcinea, suffering an enchantment, was transformed into an ugly country girl. It is unclear whether his account of the seven she-goats at the close of Chapter 41 is smoke-induced delirium, a purer and more sincere form of dementia akin to Quixote's own suffering, or a simple lie.