Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Chapter XLV
Master Nicholas, the barber from La Mancha, now decides to maintain the joke, but because of his long professional experience, he says, and because he served in the army, he is an expert on all pieces of barber equipment and knows very well what a helmet looks like. Beyond a doubt, Don Quixote holds a helmet although with its beaver missing and not a barber's basin. The curate chimes in with a similar opinion. But as to whether the packsaddle is a packsaddle or indeed a horse's trappings, the curate continues, let the matter be secretly voted on by the entire company. Everyone is amused at these remarks; the barber thinks that they are all madmen. At this point, some troopers of the Holy Brotherhood who have just entered the courtyard participate in the dispute. "This is as much a packsaddle as my father is my father!" shouts one man. Don Quixote attacks him for the lie, and a mad scene of fighting and disputing involves everyone in the courtyard. After everyone is somewhat calmed down, the troopers read aloud their warrant for the arrest of the man who freed the galley slaves. Don Quixote scoffs at their simplicity to imagine a knight-errant bounded by the rules of common jurisprudence.
This is another situation in which Don Quixote's vigorous and creative imaginings transform the mockers into true believers, though they do not recognize the occurrence. During the fray in the inn's courtyard, Don Ferdinand, Cardenio, the curate, and the barber all defend Don Quixote's notion that what appears to be a packsaddle for an ass is really the trappings for a knight's steed. Although the knight himself is not too sure what to call the equipment, his followers, not recognizing the ambiguities of truth and illusion, choose an opinion and defend it. Though they are merely making fun of the madman's fancies, Don Quixote's friends are actually fighting for the right to be imaginative against those symbols of commonplace realism, the troopers of the Holy Brotherhood.