In a few minutes, the puppet show begins. An assistant tells the story of Don Galiferos, who rescued his wife Melisendra from captivity. When he starts to describe the enemy army chasing after the couple, Quixote springs up to defend them and smashes all the puppets with his sword, to Master Pedro’s horror; he also scares away the ape. When he’s done, he announces proudly that knights errant are clearly indispensable to society. The grief-stricken Master Pedro replies that his intentions may have been good, but the fact of the matter is that Quixote destroyed his livelihood. Sancho interrupts to say that his master is kind and generous and will pay for all the damage.
Quixote has a certain readerly quality in overabundance: he is a master of suspension of disbelief, the feeling that allows readers to get caught up in stories that aren’t true. Suspension of disbelief is usually thought to increase the pleasure of reading. Quixote is so advanced in the art of suspension of disbelief that even the most artificial stories are real and true to him, in his inexhaustible imagination.
When Quixote realizes what he’s done, he says sadly that the enchanters once again distorted his perception of reality to suit their wishes. He thought the puppets were real people, he says, so he tried to defend them. The enchanters are responsible for the sad outcome, but he will willingly recompense Master Pedro for the ruined puppets. Quixote still seems to believe that the husband and wife puppets are real people, but he pays Master Pedro what he owes him. He and Sancho leave the inn early the following morning.
As usual, Quixote invokes enchanters to explain the gap between imagination and reality. In the past, though, his imagination (for example, his idea of the Knight of the Spangles) was more real than fact (the student Carrasco in costume). Here, fact prevails over imagination.