Sancho tries to cheer up his master, but with little success. Fortunately, they are distracted by a cart full of people dressed as demons, angels, kings, knights, and other characters. Don Quixote stops them and angrily asks them who they are, and the coachman patiently explains that they are a travelling acting troupe. Quixote reflects that he had assumed there was an adventure to be had, and that one must look closely to see beyond appearance to truth.
This episode marks an important change in Quixote’s perspective. In the first part of the history, Quixote asserted that he was right to judge events by appearances only (attacking because something looked sinister). Now, he acknowledges that it is his responsibility to look beyond appearances.
Just then, another member of the company dances up to them, and his noisy bells scare Rocinante so much that it races away and flings Quixote to the ground. Quixote wants to punish the actors for their impudence, but Sancho reminds him that everyone loves actors and protects them. When Quixote shouts threats at the actors, they pick up sharp stones for defense. But Sancho begs him to consider the potential injuries, pointing out that it’s “more foolhardy than brave” for one person to attack many, and they peacefully back down from the fight.
In the beginning of the novel, Quixote was always the master and Sancho the servant: Quixote made decisions and spoke the truth, while Sancho blundered and followed. Here, Sancho makes the decision and speaks the truth –and what is more, Quixote willingly concedes him the authority. Their relationship is becoming less unequal.