Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter XLI



Two weeks later, the renegade purchased a ship, and promptly the captive sought a way to apprise Zoraida of their progress. At the moment of departure, Zoraida's father made such an outcry when he saw his daughter flee that the Christians were forced to capture him and some of his servants and imprison them onboard the ship. At a convenient inlet, Zoraida's grieving father and the other Moors were set ashore, while a favoring wind bore the escapees out of earshot of the father's curses and imprecations. Captured by pirates, despoiled of all their possessions, the prisoners finally landed in a small boat at the coast of Spain. The captive concludes his tale by telling how cheerfully Zoraida endured the sufferings of the journey. He pities his lovely fiancée, who faces a bleak future attached to a man without any means.


The story of the captive is not so fantastic as may be imagined, for Cervantes has included a great deal of his own biography in this narrative. Like the captive, Cervantes was a bagnio prisoner, awaiting ransom that his impoverished family could hardly hope to provide; Cervantes, as well, had attempted to escape many times, perhaps even by the same method described by the captive, Ruy Perez de Viedma.

The captive himself represents a noble follower of the profession of arms according to the virtues that Don Quixote expressed in his speech. The captain's brother (arriving in the next chapter) represents the successful man of letters. Zoraida, on the other hand, can be considered as the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso of the captive's life, for it is she who has inspired his heroism, just as Don Quixote's mistress inspires his.