When he finishes eating, Don Quixote falls on his knees and begs the innkeeper to knight him – but only after he spends a sleepless night in the castle’s chapel, as custom dictates. The innkeeper realizes that his guest is not entirely sane and decides to go along with the game. He tells Quixote that he himself was once a great knight; he also tells him that the chapel had burned down, but that he can keep vigil anywhere he likes. He then asks Don Quixote whether he has any money; Don Quixote does not, because knights in chivalric romances do not carry money. The innkeeper replies that money is simply a detail that the authors did not bother to record, and that real knights errant and their squires always carry money and medicine.
The episode at the inn shows Quixote’s attempts to behave in perfect accordance with the rules of chivalry, as they are described in his old books. But since the world around him is so different from the world of the books, he is often forced to compromise, to adjust his idealistic vision to the mundane and complicated reality of sixteenth-century Spain. Instead of a chapel, he must make do with a yard. Instead of leading a pure, ascetic, penniless life, he must worry about money and salves.
Don Quixote goes out to a side yard, places his armor on top of a well, and begins his vigil. As he’s pacing up and down, a guest comes out to give his animals some water. When he reaches to move Don Quixote’s armor, our knight cries out to stop him; when the guest ignores him and flings the armor aside, Don Quixote smashes him unconscious with his lance. He does the same thing to another guest. Friends of the two men run outside and pelt Quixote with stones, but Quixote and the innkeeper object so violently that they stop.
Quixote must also compromise the ideals of knighthood. A knight’s duty is to help afflicted people, to fight injustice and protect the helpless – but knights are also proud, and must always defend their honor. In responding to a perceived slight, Quixote badly injures two innocent men. The rules of chivalry, when carried into the real world, can be contradictory.
The frustrated innkeeper decides to knight Quixote right away. He slaps Quixote on the neck and thumps his shoulder with Quixote’s sword. The two call girls help Quixote put on his sword, and he rides off into the early morning.
Quixote finally becomes a knight in very inglorious fashion. There is no vigil, no castle, and no princess. But Quixote is satisfied. In his imagination, he has become a knight.