The barber from Quixote’s village decides to play along with Quixote’s delusion for fun’s sake, and tells barber 2 that the contested object is definitely a helmet and not a basin; the other men all agree. The new barber begins to weaken in his convictions and wonders whether the stolen things really are a helmet and caparisons. Quixote says that it looks to him like a pack-saddle and not a caparison. He suggests that maybe only he has been affected by the enchanters in this castle, since he is a knight, and that perhaps someone else might be able to perceive things objectively.
This is a silly, nonsensical scene. It is also one of the most philosophical moments in the entire book, a textbook introduction to perspectivism. But if a crowd of people directing their gazes at an objects A and B claim that they are objects C and D, to what extent do they really become objects C and D? For this barber, they transform in an instant.
Don Fernando announces that they should take a secret vote to decide the nature of the pack-saddle/caparisons. Barber 2 is miserable to see that his basin has transformed into a helmet, and is worried that his pack-saddle will soon become caparisons. Don Fernando announces that everyone agrees that the object is a horse’s caparisons. Barber 2 swears on his soul that it looks to him like a pack-saddle, but, as he says, “the lords make the laws.” Don Luis’s servants, who aren’t in on the joke, as well as some recently arrived members of Holy Brotherhood, are all infuriated by this nonsense. Don Quixote charges at one of the peace-officers and all kinds of little fights break out among the guests.
Quixote and Sancho have observed that the inn is haunted by enchanters. The transformations of the barber’s things are so sudden and strange that they do indeed resemble enchantment; and just like the transformations Quixote and Sancho ascribe to enchanters, they take place in the eye of the perceiver. The barber’s innocuous comment is quite profound: he means that reality as we see it is created not by nature but by “lords,” the ruling classes.
Suddenly Quixote decides that they are all in a book that describes someone called King Agramante, or perhaps that the situation resembles one in the book, and shouts at everyone to calm down and make peace with one another. After his speech, everyone more or less settles down. The judge describes his dilemma to the other men, and they collectively decide that Don Fernando will tell the servants that he has invited Don Luis to spend time with him in his estate in Andalusia. But just when everyone is at peace again, one of the officers of the Holy Brotherhood remembers that he has an arrest warrant for Don Quixote, issued after he freed the group of convicts. He grabs the knight, who begins to choke him; only Don Fernando manages to pull them apart. Quixote indignantly explains that knights errant are not subject to society’s laws.
Once again, Quixote comes to the rescue using words, not force. In this situation, his obsession with chivalry books doesn’t distort reality; rather, it teaches him how to approach reality more wisely. When members of the Holy Brotherhood invade this increasingly magical inn and try to arrest Quixote, they are enacting a conflict between the general legal system and the small and particular system of the inn, whose center is Quixote and his peculiar morality.