Don Quixote

Don Quixote


Miguel de Cervantes

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Don Quixote: Part 1, Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Sancho becomes afraid that the Holy Brotherhood will come after them. As they ride along, Quixote dreams of knights while Sancho dreams of food. They come across a rotting bag containing beautiful clothes, a handkerchief filled with very valuable gold coins, and a notebook. Sancho happily scoops up the money as Quixote investigates the notebook. Inside, he finds a despairing love poem, an accusatory letter to a deceitful woman, and many other such epistles.
Cervantes often highlights the contrast between Sancho’s realism (his preoccupation with bodily needs, material goods, and practical concerns) and Quixote’s idealism (his exclusive interest in ideas, symbols, and spiritual goods). Quixote dreams of stories, Sancho dreams of food; Quixote grabs the poems, Sancho grabs the money.
Literature, Realism, and Idealism Theme Icon
Soon after, they see a ragged, half-naked man run wildly over nearby rocks and disappear. Don Quixote decides to go looking for him, though Sancho thinks it would be best to leave him be and keep the money that most likely belongs to him. They come across a dead mule and a goatherd with his goats. He tells the friends that six months ago a handsome and richly dressed young man appeared in these wild parts and abandoned his bag and mule. He comes out every once in a while in an insane fever to steal food from the goatherds, though sometimes when he visits he seems perfectly civil and sane. Just then the young man comes towards them, and Quixote impulsively embraces him.
Quixote is interested in the story of the young poet and wants to help him, if possible. He senses that some romantic tragedy is afoot – the sort of tragedy that is his bread and butter. As usual, Sancho is more interested in the money. Quixote’s intuition is confirmed by the goatherd’s story. Perhaps he feels a particular affinity for the young man, because he, like Quixote, is thought to be insane.
Literature, Realism, and Idealism Theme Icon
Madness and Sanity Theme Icon