Summary and Analysis
As they descend into the village, Don Quixote overhears a remark of one boy to another: "Thou shalt never see her while thy hast breath in thy body." He is certain that the significance of the phrase is reserved for him. Then a hare, closely pursued, rests in the shelter of Dapple's legs. Don Quixote says of this new omen: "A hare runs away, hounds pursue her, and Dulcinea is not started." Sancho tries to dispel his fear. "See," he says, "If this hunted hare is Dulcinea threatened by enchanters, I hand her now safely into your keeping." Questioning the two boys, Sancho finds that one refuses to return to the other a cage of crickets, and Don Quixote appears quieted. Arriving in the village, they first meet the bachelor Carrasco and the curate. Teresa and her daughter meet Sancho and happily lead him home. Don Quixote informs his listeners about his defeat, and how he shall now pass the year's retirement as a shepherd, inviting them to join his pastoral life. Humoring this new mad fancy, the curate and Samson applaud the project. Samson says, "As everybody knows, I am a most celebrated poet, and I'll write pastorals in abundance." Don Quixote now greets his niece and housekeeper, who are glad again to care for him.
Don Quixote, by seeing such dark omens, begins to despair of discovering his Dulcinea in her true form. This despair is the expression of the same Alonso Quixano who now prepares to die, having given up the fantasy of embracing either the real Aldonza or achieving the unblemished vision of Dulcinea with his knightly gaze. As Don Quixote tells the curate and bachelor his plans for a shepherd's life, Samson confesses his own basic quixotism and searching-for-Dulcinea: everybody knows I am a celebrated poet. By these words, Samson confesses his envy of Don Quixote as well as the unconscious desire to cause the downfall of his superior rival.