Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter V-VI



Still unable to rise, Don Quixote searches his memory for passages from books of chivalry that would give him comfort. He recites appropriate verses from an epic he has memorized, declaiming so loudly that the noise attracts the attention of a passerby who rushes to the spot. The kind peasant, a neighbor of his, examines him gently for injury, helps him up, and heaves Don Quixote onto his donkey. Leading Rosinante by the bridle, he takes the knight home. Don Quixote's housekeeper and niece and his friends gather around the hero asking many questions. Aside from saying that he fell heavily off his horse while fighting ten giants, Don Quixote is silent and desires repose above all.

The curate and barber, accompanied by the housekeeper, venture into Don Quixote's library. They have decided to burn the books of knight-errantry, the cause of the poor gentleman's madness. Before committing the volumes to the fire, however, the two learned friends examine the title pages of the books, remarking and exchanging critical comments on the value of the volumes, all of which are very familiar to them.


Cervantes writes this scene as if it were an inquisition, with the curate and barber putting the books on trial and then passing sentence. This device serves to show not only how extensive Don Quixote's readings are, but how familiar these volumes are to everyone who has the ability to read. The curate and the barber, speaking of the merits of each book, show themselves to be almost as extravagant as Don Quixote. They take the literature very seriously in order to accuse books as being the cause of the Don's madness in the first place. The inquisitors are, however, interested in saving a few of the works from the fire, and these innocents are put aside in another pile.