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Free Barron's Booknotes-Don Quixote by Migel de Cervantes-Free Book Notes
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THE STORY - SUMMARY AND NOTES

PART I

CHAPTERS 15-17

Quixote and his squire camp in a meadow near a group of carriers from the province of Galicia (Yanguas). When Rozinante shows a romantic interest in the carriers' mares, a fight starts. Not surprisingly, Don Quixote and Sancho lose the fight.

NOTE:

The carrier, or teamster, was the sixteenth-and seventeenth-century equivalent of the long-haul truck driver. Such men had the reputation of being big, burly, and not likely to tolerate an insult.

The Don and his sidekick return to the inn. There they are placed in an attic bedroom which they are to share with a stranger, another carrier. Once again, Don Quixote is under the impression that he is in a castle. The inn has a poor, ugly servant girl named Maritornes, who has agreed to spend the night in the bed of the stranger. But when she tries to sneak into the attic, Don Quixote wakes up. He has been dreaming of Dulcinea, and he grabs the girl, thinking that she is his beloved. Even when he realizes his error, he thinks the girl must have been coming to visit him. Mistaking her attempts to get away for hysterical disappointment, he tries to explain that he must keep himself pure for Dulcinea. By now, the carrier is awake. Thinking that Don Quixote has stolen his girl, he starts to beat him up. This is the beginning of a free-for-all. The innkeeper arrives to see what the commotion is about and ends up getting drawn into the fight. The police are called. The inn is in total confusion. The only person not confused is Don Quixote, who tells Sancho that they must have wandered into an enchanted castle.

When things finally quiet down, Don Quixote insists on leaving the inn without paying. Knights-errant are too pure to deal with sordid matters like money. He rides off, leaving Sancho to face the innkeeper's wrath. Some local pranksters hanging around the inn courtyard grab the poor squire and toss him roughly in a blanket.

CHAPTERS 18-21

By now Sancho Panza is beginning to become disillusioned. He is especially unhappy when he learns that his master was just outside the inn courtyard throughout his ordeal but did not come to his aid. Don Quixote's excuse is that the enchanter must have cast a magic spell over him. He just couldn't get himself moving!


The knight's next series of adventures leave Sancho even more disgusted: First, Sancho and the Don see two dust clouds in the distance. Quixote is sure that they are caused by two armies, marching to battle. He spins a wild fantasy, making up a saga of the feud between two imaginary kingdoms. He can even envision the knights on both sides. One has a cat on his shield with the motto Meeow (Miau). Another knight has as his symbol the droopy asparagus plant. His motto is "My Fortune Trails." (This might also be translated "my fortune droops"not a very inspiring motto!) Carried away by his own fantasy, the Don rides off to join the battle. But the "armies" turn out to be two flocks of sheep. The shepherds pelt the intruders with stones. Quixote gives Sancho some of his "magic balm," but the medicine makes the poor squire vomit violently.

Next, Don Quixote sees a funeral procession passing on the road. He imagines that the mourners, who are dressed in black or white robes and carrying flaming torches, are ghosts. Charging the procession, the Don manages to knock one of the mourners to the ground, only to discover that his victim is not a ghost at all but a terrified young student. Although he regrets having frightened the young man, it does not occur to Don Quixote that he may have been at fault. He explains, with twisted logic, that it was really the mourners' own fault for looking so much like "something sinister from the other world" that he, Quixote, was duty bound to attack them.

Quixote and Sancho then spend a sleepless night in a meadow, terrified by a loud clanking sound nearby. In the morning they learn that the noise was only some large wooden hammers used by nearby villagers for manufacturing cloth. Finally, Don Quixote sees a barber (not his friend Nicholas but another man) carrying a brass basin on his head to protect himself from the rain. Quixote mistakes the basin for the "golden helmet of Mambrino"- a legendary treasure. He frightens the barber into running away and takes the "helmet" for himself.

NOTE:

By this time, Sancho is starting to fight back. When he wants to keep his master from investigating the horrible clanking noises, he ties Rozinante's hind legs together and tells Quixote that the horse is immobilized by a magic spell. Sancho Panza is still being portrayed as a buffoon. Although at times he sees through his master's delusions, minutes later he can be totally taken in by them. However, a note of mutual admiration is beginning to creep into the two men's conversations.

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