Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
Contributed by Jerrold Mcmenamin

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2-Chapter XXII–XXVIII
Summary

Chapter XXII

Sancho and Don Quixote depart for Montesinos Cave with Basilio’s cousin. Basilio’s cousin is an author of parodies of great classical works. He is acting as a guide for the men. When the three men get to Montesinos’s Cave, Sancho and the guide use a rope to lower Don Quixote into the cave. After waiting for half an hour, they pull him up. He is asleep.

Chapter XXIII

Don Quixote informs Sancho and Basilio’s cousin that when he entered the cave, he discovered s small nook and fell asleep in it. When he woke up, he found himself in a beautiful field. He was approached by an old man, who said that he was Montesinos and under a terrible enchantment. Montesinos said that he did cut out his cousin Durandarte’s heart when the man died. He brought the heart to Durandarte’s wife, Belerma, at the man’s request. However, he declares, Merlin has now put them all under the effect of a spell that is preventing them from leaving the cave. Durandarte lies down on the ground, occasionally sighing and speaking. Montesinos says that Merlin prophesied that Don Quixote would come. He also foresaw that the gentleman would be able to free them from their enchantments.

Don Quixote declares that he was in the cave for three days and three nights. He also says that he saw Dulcinea in an enchanted form. Sancho believes that Don Quixote is crazy. Don Quixote declares he understands that Sancho contradicts him only because he loves him. He says that Sancho will soon come to understand that his story is true, although it probably appears nonsensical to him now.

Chapter XXIV

Cervantes declares that the translator discovered a note from Cide Hamete Benengeli in the manuscript’s margin, warning that he thought Don Quixote’s story was untrue and that he gentleman himself renounced it later on his deathbed.

Basilio’s cousin finds the adventures in the cave to be thrilling and says he will use them in his writing. When they’re back on the road, he, Sancho, and Don Quixote meet a man carrying a load of weapons who says he will tell him his story if they come to the inn where he is staying, to meet him. After this, they meet a youth making his way to war. The boy’s bravery is commended by Don Quixote.

Chapter XXV

While at the inn, Don Quixote sees the man with the weapons. The man conveys the story of two magistrates. They lost a donkey near his village, on a mountain. To get back his animal, the magistrates traveled about the mountain making braying noises like donkeys. While they were not able to find the donkey, they found their own ability to imitate donkeys very impressive. Villages nearby heard word of their strange antics. As a result, every time someone from the man’s village passes someone from another village, a braying noise is inevitably made. It is because of this that the two villages will be going to war. 

A well-known puppeteer called Master Peter comes to the inn with an ape that whispers into Master Peter’s ear, telling them people’s fortunes. Sancho attempts to pay Master Peter to say what is wife is doing now. However, Master Peter falls dramatically to his knees, and the ape gives Don Quixote profuse praise. Don Quixote finds this flattering but believes Master Peter is part of a pact with the devil. He asks the ape whether his experiences in the cave were real or illusionary. The ape says that some parts of it were true but others false.

Chapter XXVI

Master Peter stages a puppet show for Don Quixote. This show represents a knight’s travails. This knight travels to rescue his wife from a foreign land. Don Quixote begins to think that the show is real, and he attacks the entire set, destroying it. He explains that it is his enchanters that are responsible for his actions because they led him to believe that the puppets were real. Don Quixote gives Master Peter money for this trouble. He pays the innkeeper and treats the guests to a meal, as well.

Chapter XXVII

Cervantes states that Cide Hamete Benengeli swears that Master Peter’s real identity is Gines de Pasamonte. Gines de Pasamonte was the galley slave whom Don Quixote freed near Sierra Morena earlier in the story. Benengeli then goes back to the narration. Don Quixote and Sancho meet with the army that has come from the village whose magistrates made braying noises like donkeys. Don Quixote tries to convince the men to refrain from attacking the other village. He declares that it is not possible for one man to insult a whole village. He almost persuades the villagers. Sancho then takes over. Sancho says that there is no reason to be ashamed of braying. He even starts braying himself. The villagers believe that Sancho is making fun of them, and they attack him, knocking him unconscious. Don Quixote flees. As the other villagers don’t show up to the battle, the braying village returns home feeling victorious.

Chapter XXVIII

Don Quixote reprimands Sancho for being so foolish as to bray to a group of villagers who are sensitive on the subject of braying. He says that he retreated only because knights should never act out of temerity. Sancho starts bringing up the topic of wages again. Don Quixote becomes so angry that he attempts to send Sancho away. Sancho apologizes.

Analysis

The tale of Montesinos’s Cave is the high point in the imaginative insanity of Don Quixote. Don Quixote describes his dream to Basilio’s cousin and Sancho with so much texture and detail that we might start to think the story could be real, if it were not for Sancho’s objections. Don Quixote no longer talks about things that can be used by others to set him down as a madman. At this point, Don Quixote possesses the authority to transform thirty minutes in a dark cave into a few days in a crystal palace. The tale, with all of its wonderful detail, shows Cervantes’s gift for storytelling. It is the novel’s best display of descriptive and imaginative power. The description is inspired by the Trojan hero Aeneas’s meeting with Dido in the underworld in the Aeneid by Virgil. It is only Sancho, with knowledge of the fact that he previously deceived his master about Dulcinea’s enchantment, who stops us from believing in the description. Nevertheless, Don Quixote’s caring and gentle statement explaining that he understands the nature of Sancho’s bewilderment but that he will quickly realize the truth suddenly appears more plausible than Sancho’s argument.

The margin note that the author mentions in Chapter XXIV adds to the puzzle of the book’s narration by posing the question of how many translators are responsible for the text. In the opening of the Second Part, Sampson informs Don Quixote that the author is going to publish a second part when he is able to find the manuscript, which the Moor has produced in his own language and an unknown “Christian” has completed in his. If Cervantes is the Christian, it is difficult to explain why Cervantes talks about him throughout the book as “the translator.” If the Christian is someone other than Cervantes, it is difficult to imagine the role played by Cervantes in bringing us the novel. This source of tension and additional layering of authors, voices, and narrators brings attention to the novel’s circular form, and it causes Don Quixote’s sanity to have an ambiguous nature. At all times, we are compelled to question everything we are reading and ponder which perspective is the most accurate.

When Gines de Pasamonte reappears, disguised as Master Peter, we see exemplified the manner in which the novel’s second half mirrors its first. When characters from the first half reappear, it helps fuse the two parts into one novel, in spite of the clear distinctions between them. Cervantes clearly hopes to establish that his work is the authentic sequel to the first half. Bringing the two parts together by way of his characters is one method he uses in doing so.

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