Don Quixote Book II

Don Quixote Book II Summary and Analysis of Book II, Chapters 51-58

Book II: Chapter LI - Chapter LVIII Summaries

Chapter LI

Sancho continues to hear the cases of the people and make judicious decisions. His steward continues to starve Sancho and deny him food, in accordance with the Duke's instructions. Don Quixote sends a letter commending Sancho and also worrying that he (Quixote) may fall out of the Duke's favor because of what is required of him as a knight. Quixote does not explain any further. Sancho sends a reply and then proceeds to establish laws for the people. These take the form of The Constitutions of the Great Governor Sancho Panza and they are still "observed in that town to this day."

Chapter LII

Quixote has recovered from his wounds and he begins to think that knight-errantry requires of him a life other than that which he is currently living in the Duke's castle. Doña Rodriguez's worries are also heavy on Don Quixote's heart. Quixote says he will find the farmer's son and challenge him to a duel if the young man refuses to be wed. The Duke says that he will find the young man himself and arrange the tournament with the usual ceremonies. The duchess receives the letter from Teresa Panza and she also keeps Teresa's letter to Sancho. Teresa expresses some doubts in her letter, admitting that most of the town disbelieves that Sancho is a governor and that her own doubt is only somewhat abated by the string of coral and the hunting-suit. Don Quixote opens Teresa's letter and reads it, and after this, Sancho's letter to Quixote is read aloud. The letters garner both laughter and respect.

Chapter LIII

Sancho does not keep his government for much longer and Cid Hamet comments on "the swiftness with which Sancho's government ended, perished, dissolved, and vanished into smoke and a shadow." The enemies have arrived to attack the island and Sancho is told to arm himself. The stewards tie Sancho in cumbersome armor and he stumbles and falls. The actors create an assault and Sancho is downed several times. Then someone cries "Victory" and announces that Sancho has been victorious and the enemies have been routed. Sancho is bruised and some of the men feel compassion and guilt. Sancho is taken to bed and he has a little wine. He then rouses himself, gets dressed and prepares to leave, saying "I was not born to be a governor." When the steward and doctor try to convince Sancho to stay, he replies "These are not tricks to be played twice." Sancho takes Dapple and heads for the Duke's castle.

Chapter LIV

The young man who is to do battle with Quixote has fled to Flanders. In his place, a lackey named Tosilos, will fight instead. On the road to the Duke's castle, Sancho passes some pilgrims who beg for alms and so Panza gives them the bread and cheese he has with him. One of the pilgrims recognizes Sancho and Sancho discovers that the man is an old neighbor, Ricote the Morisco shopkeeper. Ricote has been expelled from Spain along with all of the other Moors, and Sancho is alarmed to see him. Ricote is in disguise and he tells Sancho that he (Ricote) will be safe so long as Sancho does not blow his cover. Sancho enjoys a fabulous picnic with the pilgrims, who have wine, caviar, olives, and other foods. Ricote talks about his banishment with Sancho (after the pilgrims have fallen asleep). Ricote says that he understands why the crown has made the edict. Still, it was "the most terrible [sentence] that can be inflicted." He speaks of Spain and says "here were we born, and this is our naïve countryŠ Sweet is the love of one's country." Ricote says that he has buried treasure in a town nearby his old home; he would like Sancho to help him recover it. Sancho declines and says he has learned a valuable lesson already, having just exited the government of a nearby island. Ricote exclaims that islands are out to sea, and so Sancho good not have ruled an island nearby. The two men part ways and wish each other luck.

Chapter LV

Traveling on in the night, Sancho falls into a pit but he is not harmed, though Dapple seems to be. The walls of the pit are smooth and Sancho cannot think how to climb out of the pit. He discovers a hole in one side that he widens so that he and Dapple might pass through. There is a glimmering light in the distance, perhaps the entrance to the other world.

Chapter LVI

Don Quixote is out in the morning practicing his riding and jousting when he nearly falls into the same pit. Sancho and Quixote are astonished by the nature of their reunion. Don Quixote intends to rescue Sancho but he wants to be sure that this is not an enchantment or that Sancho is already dead. Quixote finally believes the voice of Sancho and he goes to the castle to seek help. Sancho is rescued and when he arrives at the castle, he formally renounces his title to the island.

The duke instructs Tosilos that he is not to kill or wound Quixote, though he is to overcome him. The duke tells Quixote that the iron heads should be removed from the lances since Christianity would not permit or justify this bloodshed. Tosilos sees the young daughter of the duenna and he is in love with her, immediately. He cedes the battle to Quixote, but the duenna is enraged when she sees that Tosilos is not the farmer's son. Quixote insists that this is the work of the enchanters. The duke is upset with Tosilos, and Tosilos is confined for a period of days, so that it might be known whether or not he has been transformed by enchanters. Tosilos still hopes to marry Doña Rodriguez's daughter.

Chapter LVII - LVIII

Despite the protests of Altisidora, Don Quixote is persistent in his attempt to leave the castle. Quixote and Sancho Panza set out with two hundred gold crowns to cover expenses. The knight and squire spend a little time with a group of shepherds and shepherdesses, some of whom have read of Quixote.


Finally, we see the knight and squire extricate themselves from the clutches of the duke and the duchess. Sancho seems to have wised up to their game, though Quixote never seems to have caught on to the fact that the duke and duchess were tricksters. Sancho is able to leave a worthy record of his service, as is seen in his Constitution.

Doña Rodriguez's story simply adds to a motif that has already been developed to the point of excess. We see that duplicity and false promises are simply part of life. It seems almost excessive for Doña Rodriguez to seek the assistance of Don Quixote at this point. The replacement of the farmer's son with Tosilos is one form of deceptive role-playing that also recalls the nuances of the game of the priest, barber and Dorotea (Princess Micomicona). Tosilos is doubly subversive however. He stands in the role of the false lover, deceiving Doña Rodriguez and her company. But then Tosilos falls in love and forgets himself, promising to marry Doña Rodriguez's daughter even though he is not the farmer's son. Here, love is not glorified; it is a snag.

Ricote's return from exile introduces a historical context within the novel's story. We also see that Cervantes' politics are far more tempered than what we found in Book I. Both Ricote and Cid Hamet are treated with respect in Book II. Furthermore, Cervantes has Ricote say that the exile was justified as a means of protection; however, Ricote also describes that the pain suffered by the honest Moriscos is unbearable. This is a critique of the blanket law - if there is one thing that Don Quixote has revealed about human nature it is the pure diversity of thought, intentions, and opinions on the part of each individual. Each man deserves to be considered on his own merits as opposed to a group identity. Finally, we should recall that Ricote is far more neighborly towards Sancho than was Sancho's neighbor, Tom Cecial, in Book II Chapter XVI. Ricote is honest and generous, disguised as a pilgrim in order to save his own life. Cecial is misleading and violent, disguised as a disfigured hoodlum in order to frighten Sancho.