Book II: Chapter LXIII Summaries
The talking head has promised the disenchantment of Dulcinea and Quixote looks forward to seeing it. Don Antonio brings Sancho and Don Quixote to the pier, where they board a boat. Sancho is quite frightened by the slaves who row the boat and by the mechanics of the oars and sails. A Turkish boat apprehends this boat, as they row out to sea. There is a scuffle and two men are shot dead. A young boy from the Turkish boat is seized, his hands are tied and a rope is drawn around his neck. He turns out to be a young Christian woman and begs permission to tell her sad story. The general consents. She was born of Moorish parents but was a true Christian. This did not save her from forcible exile, however, and she was carried by her uncles to the Barbary Coast. A young gentleman called Don Gaspar Gregorio loved the young Moor and vowed to follow her. She accompanies her uncles to Algiers where the King heard of her beauty and also heard of the beauty of Don Gaspar Gregorio, who has accompanied her. To protect Don Gregorio, the young woman says that he is a woman and when "she" (Don Gregorio in a Morisca's attire) is presented to the king, the king is so mesmerized that he decides to send "her" as a gift to one of his friends. In the meantime, she (Don Gregorio) is locked in a house. Meanwhile, she has been sent home accompanied by the king's soldiers, so that she might unbury a treasure that her father has left at her house.
She is untied and the noose is removed. A pilgrim who is on the boat then speaks to the girl calling her "Anna Felix;" he is her father, Ricote, who has sneaked into Spain to seek her. Sancho is astonished and he vouches for both Ricote and his daughter, Anna Felix Ricota. They decide to send a small boat to rescue Don Gaspar Gregorio.
In more than a few ways, Book II has become a story of censorship, deception, the hijacking of identities and the suppression of truth and speech. The "strange adventure of the beautiful Morisco" in Chapter LXIII lends a powerful image to this theme. The reader may recall how Doña Rodriguez was clutched by the throat and so silenced in Chapter XLVIII when she tried to voice her story to Don Quixote. Ricote's daughter ("the beautiful Morisco") tells us that in the hour of exile and banishment: "it availed me nothing to say I was a Christian, as indeed I am the discovery of this truth had no influence on those who were charged with our unhappy banishment." In a sense, the fact of the Morisco's Christianity condemns her Christian persecutors. Like Don Quixote, the fact of her true identity "had no influence" on those whose intent was to disregard the truth. In the previous chapter, Don Quixote mutters on how the Second Part ought to have been burnt already. Yet, the appeal to the truth cannot be reasonably expected to alter the course of those who might profit from deceit.
Deceit and disguise can become a defense of sorts - how many women and girls have we already "apprehended" dressed as boys and men? And yet, to what end? The beautiful Morisco is still caught; she must still have her "adventure."
There is a certain level of dramatic irony here. At this point, we already have sufficient indication that the Morisco will not be executed: we have already heard enough to link her story to Ricote; we have already been told that the commanding general is already sympathetic; what we know of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza tells us that neither man would allow such an execution to occur without intervening. Even with the dramatic irony, the sinister aspects remain. In the previous chapter, Don Antonio's liberties and wealth afford him the option of purchasing a constructed head: a machine that enjoys greater freedoms than some of the human characters. A contraption full of lies, the talking head is neither choked nor silenced; he is consulted and adored. Even machines have limited rights within this social context, however. The talking head is destroyed because the rumors of its excellence have spread too far and too quickly. The Inquisition may get wind of the head, call it witchcraft, and handle Don Antonio accordingly. Don Antonio censors his head before the Church feels called to intervene.
Earlier, Ricote has explained the pain of forced exile, a pain that comes from his love for his true country: Spain. Here, Anna Felix appeals more to her Catholicism than to her Spanishness, per se. Anna Felix's evidence is genealogical and behavioral. Catholicism has been taught and passed down to her by her parents and whatever inherent Moorishness might have been inside of her has remained stillborn. "My mother was a Christian too. I sucked in the Catholic faith with my milk. I was virtuously brought up, and, neither in my language nor my behaviour, did I, as I thought, give any indication of being a Morisco." Indeed, the journey into Muslim lands comes as a result of Anna Felix's uncles, not her parents. And Ricote has already told us that these uncles are bad Moors.
Anna Felix's narrative abilities and the accuracy of her story are both shaped by her circumstances. She says that the full details of her story "would be tedious to relate, especially at a time when I am under apprehension, that the cruel cord, which threatens me, may interpose between my tongue and throat." The story of the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) features a beautiful woman, Scheherazade, who eludes execution and marries the king with expert storytelling. Each story carries another story within this story, continuing for as long as it takes for the woman to turn the king's heart and stay the execution. Similarly, Anna Felix's story must immediately perform - and continue to perform until the rope is removed from her neck. She immediately confesses her Christianity and throughout the story she uses phrases like "the place we settled in was Algiers, or rather hell itself." This phrase is Anna Felix's way of assuring her audience that she thinks the same way that they do. She shares their religion and their God, their prejudices, their language, and their fears.
Anna Felix joins the minor character-major storytellers of Book I. As Quixote complained about these "digressions" in Book I, Chapter III, such internal storytellers have been scarce in Book II. Characters have told stories, but this has been done through narrated conversation. Here, Anna Felix speaks uninterrupted for the course of six paragraphs. Her story is not as long as the stories of Book I, but it retains this same narrative form. As a story-within-a-story, Ricota's tale also carries the motifs we saw in Book I: Two beautiful lovers have been separated. There has been cross-dressing by men and women. There has been an imprisonment. There has been a journey into a foreign land, notably Algiers. There is buried treasure. The story is a good one and it performs its finally mission: not only is Ricota spared death, she is reunited with her father. This is a family reunion (like the long lost brothers of Leon) and as this is a Moorish family, this father and son (Ricota and Ricote) are a contrast to brave and Catholic Lela Zoraida who has converted and left her Muslim father to suffer in humiliation and suicidal despair. Ricota and Ricote are reunited when a boat from Spain meets a boat from Algiers. On a boat from Algiers to Spain, Lela Zoraida and her father are separated. Ricote has risked his life and returned to Spain to find his daughter. Having been forsaken by his daughter, Zoraida tries to jump off the ship and drown himself.