The next day, while Don Quixote is sleeping, the priest, the barber, the niece, and the housekeeper decide to look through Quixote’s books, which they consider to be the root of his problem. The housekeeper wants the priest to sprinkle holy water over them, but the more worldly priest knows the best way to disarm the harmful books is to burn them. They go through the books one by one to decide which deserve to go into the flames; the priest has put himself in charge, and his criteria are not very clear. He condemns some books for their bad moral influence, some for their absurdity, some for dullness. He also throws all the heftier volumes out onto the burn pile out of laziness. Some of the books he spares because he has read and enjoyed them; this includes the Galatea of Cervantes, whom the priest knows personally.
The book often satirizes false or hypocritical figures of authority like the priest. He has complete confidence in his judgment, which he considers representative of an especially sane and virtuous segment of society. He is certain that he knows how to identify morally upstanding, realistic, and entertaining books, because he believes there is a single correct perspective on morality, realism, and pleasure. Yet the reader can see that his judgment is far from impartial, so his self-confidence and self-seriousness become comical.