Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Chapter LVIII
First the knight and squire encounter some workmen seated at the roadside eating their lunch. They say they are delivering the figures of various saints for the altarpiece of a village church, and the Don asks if he could look at them. As he scrutinizes the figures of St. George, St. Martin, and San Diego the Moor-Slayer, he eloquently remarks on the virtues of each one, reinforcing Sancho's impression that his master knows all there is to know. Their next adventure begins when Don Quixote gets entangled in some bird snares. Thinking the green netting is again the work of his wicked enchanter, he is ready to burst the cords when two lovely, richly-dressed shepherdesses appear. The maidens explain that they are part of a company of villagers who are setting up a new pastoral Arcadia. They invite the Don and Sancho to join them, and after dinner, the knight expresses his gratitude. He swears to post himself in the middle of the highway for two days, defending the assertion that these maids of the new Arcadia are the most beautiful and courteous maidens in the universe, excepting for Dulcinea of course. Shouting his challenge to the highway, he and Sancho spy a swift-moving company of horsemen, armed with lances. "Stand off!" shouts one man, "Or the bulls will tread thee to pieces!" Even against fierce cattle, however, the knight stands fast, and the herd runs over them all, trampling Dapple, Rosinante, Sancho, as well as the valorous knight. So embarrassed at the outcome of this incident, Don Quixote departs without even saying goodbye to his new friends.
Don Quixote feels great gratitude for the hospitality of the new Arcadians, who, notably, do not mock the valorous knight whose history they have all read. At last Don Quixote has found a group of people who are as eager as he to reestablish the "Golden Age," a peaceful, high-idealed society. Thus Don Quixote stands boldly at the highway crossing and challenges the world to disagree with this new society. Wild cattle, however, trample the brave challenger, and when Don Quixote recognizes that they are vile beasts, not enchanters, it is obvious that Cervantes is leading his hero further into disillusionment. With the beginning of sanity, Don Quixote unconsciously prepares himself for death.