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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 II

CHAPTERS 58-60

Don Quixote and Sancho leave the castle, continuing their journey to the jousting tournament described by Sampson Carrasco at the beginning of Part II.

Don Quixote is hiking through a wood when he gets caught in some threads strung between the trees. A young woman appears and explains that the threads are snares set to trap birds. She and her companions introduce themselves as well-to-do ladies who have retired to this part of the countryside to play at being shepherdesses. The young women and their male companions make a big fuss over Don Quixote. He, in turn, offers to stand in the middle of the road and challenge anyone who comes by to acknowledge the shepherdesses' beauty. Unfortunately for Don Quixote, the first "travelers" to come along are a herd of bulls. They stampede right past the Don and Sancho, leaving both men bruised and breathless.

NOTE:

The young ladies playing shepherdesses are acting out the fantasies of the pastoral romances that were still quite popular in Cervantes' time. Their modern equivalent would be a group of wealthy young people going to a town in the Old West to play at being cowboys and frontier dwellers. You might also be reminded of the hippie communes of the 1960s and early 1970s that were founded by young people from the cities who tried, often very self-consciously, to "live off the land."


Moving on, Don Quixote is quite depressed to hear two gentlemen at an inn discussing the unauthorized Part II of Don Quixote that has just been published. In fact, it was while writing this chapter of the novel that Cervantes learned that such a sequel, written by another author, had appeared in print. Cervantes took his revenge through the characters in his story. Because the author of the unauthorized Part II supposedly had his characters travel to Saragossa, the "real" Don Quixote-Cervantes' character-decides to prove the sequel false by changing his destination. He and Sancho will go to Barcelona instead.

In the meantime, Don Quixote has another problem. He is upset because Sancho has not yet given himself the 3300 lashes that will free Dulcinea from her magic spell. At night, while the pair are camping out under the stars, the Don creeps up on the sleeping Sancho and tries to deliver the lashes himself. Sancho wakes up and wrestles with his master.

Next, the Don and Sancho meet a band of highway robbers led by a notorious outlaw named Roque Ginart. The knight and his squire are afraid that their end has come. To their surprise, however, Roque turns out to be a gentleman outlaw. Recognizing that the Don is mad, Roque does not rob him. The outlaw treats his other victims with similar courtesy. He takes only from the rich and undeserving, and even then he limits himself to stealing no more than they can afford to lose.

NOTE:

Roque Ginart was a real outlaw who operated in eastern Spain during the time Cervantes was writing. You might compare him to the legendary Englishman, Robin Hood. Roque's philosophy of robbing from the rich to give to the poor is a real-life example of "quixotism." Yet Roque does not recognize Don Quixote as a kindred spirit. Why not? One reason might be that Roque knows the score, so to speak. He realizes that in the eyes of the law he is still an outlaw. Unlike Don Quixote, he is in touch with reality. What other differences did you find between the two characters?

CHAPTERS 61-62

The Don and Sancho finally reach Barcelona. Roque has given them a letter of introduction to a gentleman named Don Antonio Moreno who welcomes them as guests in his home. Quixote and Sancho discover that they are now celebrities. The townsfolk recognize them as characters in a famous book. Don Antonio even gives a ball in Quixote's honor.

It does not take Don Quixote and Sancho very long to discover that being famous has as many drawbacks as being poor and unappreciated. The Don wears himself out dancing at the ball. He and Sancho grow weary of being stared at every time they appear in public. Furthermore, the wonders of city life turn out to be greatly overrated. In one scene, Don Antonio shows off a disembodied "talking head." Of course this is just an elaborate parlor trick. The head is made of bronze, and its voice is produced by Don Antonio's nephew, hiding in a room below and shouting through a pipe.

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