Soon afterwards, one morning in July, Don Quixote puts on his armor, mounts his horse, and begins his first sally as a knight errant. He worries that he hasn’t yet been knighted, and resolves to ask this favor of the first person he encounters in his travels. He imagines that the author who records his adventures will describe the morning in lofty and romantic terms, and even writes some of the description in his head.
Quixote is not entirely blind to the discrepancies between his life and that of a knight errant’s, but he believes that the discrepancies are easily bridged. The question of authorship also arises: if Quixote is writing the description of the morning in the story, is he perhaps also writing the story itself?
After travelling all day, he arrives at an inn at nightfall. But since he sees everything as it would appear in his favorite books, he sees a beautiful castle instead of an inn, and he sees two ladies instead of the two call girls sitting by the door. He addresses them very formally, and they burst out laughing. The innkeeper steps outside and invites Don Quixote to spend the night. He helps Quixote dismount and the girls take off all his armor except his helmet and visor, which he insists on wearing inside, because the visor is attached to the helmet only by a few ribbons and he doesn’t want to tear them. Inside, Don Quixote is served stale bread and salty fish; the girls have to feed him because he’s using his hands to hold up his visor. The bad food seems to him like a very fine meal.
At the beginning of the story, two disparate worlds exist side by side, almost without touching: the world of the novel, and the world of Quixote’s imagination. The world of the novel seems to be the perspective of an omniscient, objective narrator, who describes things in sober, naturalistic detail. The world of Quixote’s imagination is an amalgam of chivalric romances. He sees not outward, into the narrator’s world, but inward, into his imagined world. The two worlds touch comically when Quixote interacts with people, who to the reader are suddenly both ladies and call girls at once.