Quixote is depressed to have to return to his village, but thrilled that Sancho is capable of resurrection (it was not too difficult to convince himself that Altisidora had really been dead). Sancho is annoyed that he was not paid for the resurrection, and Quixote offers to pay him for Dulcinea’s lashes. Sancho decides each lash will cost a quarter of a real, calculates the total sum, and joyfully retreats behind some trees to begin self-mortification. Quixote stays nearby and counts. After giving himself a few painful lashes, Sancho decides to raise the price to half a real per stroke. Quixote agrees, but instead of lashing his own back Sancho begins lashing the trees and moaning theatrically.
To avoid that disastrous conclusion, Quixote tries to forget that this latest adventure was a hoax. But forcing oneself to forget something is not the same as forgetting it, and forcing oneself to hope is not the same as hoping. Quixote’s offer to pay Sancho is a desperate act. Whether or not Quixote is conscious of Sancho’s trick, it forms part of the web of mockery and deceit that finally crushes him.
Finally Quixote stops him and they ride on to a nearby inn, which to Quixote definitely looks like an inn and not a castle; ever since he was defeated by the mysterious knight in Barcelona, “his judgment on all things was sounder.” One paining in his room shows the rape of Helen, and another shows Dido and Aeneas. Quixote looks at them and wishes he’d lived in the same age as they did, so that he could save them. Sancho predicts that soon inns will have paintings of their adventures on their walls.
We have traced the transformation of Quixote’s perspective by fits and starts. Now, the narrator writes clearly that his mind has changed. What does it mean that his judgment is “sounder”? He sees inns, not castles – he looks out into the world, instead of into his imagination. So his sound judgment is a loss as much as a gain: a loss of perspective and of identity.