Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Chapter LXXIV
As Don Quixote languishes, the household imagined he is sick from the regret of defeat and disappointment in Dulcinea's disenchantment. The curate, the bachelor Samson Carrasco, and Sancho try to cheer up the sick man. Nothing helps; Don Quixote makes his will, gets confessed by the curate. Gathering his friends, the hidalgo tells them, "My good friends, I have happy news for you; I am no longer Don Quixote de La Mancha, but Alonso Quixano, the same who the world for his fair behavior has been pleased to call the Good. I now declare myself an enemy to Amadis de Gaul and his whole generation." Then Sancho, weeping, begs his master not to die, for there are chivalric deeds yet to accomplish. No more of that nonsense, says the Don sadly: "There are no birds in last year's nests." In his will, Don Quixote dictates that his niece, if she chooses to marry, must select a man who has no knowledge of books of chivalry. If she insists on the contrary marriage, she shall forfeit her inheritance. Don Quixote dies. Among "sagacious Cid Hamet's" words addressed to his pen, Cervantes writes: "For me alone was the great Quixote born, and I alone for him; it was for him to act, for me to write, and we two are one in spite of that Tordesillesque pretender [Avellaneda] who had, and may have, the audacity to write with a coarse and ill-trimmed ostrich quill of the deeds of my valiant knight."
Now that Don Quixote is about to die, Sancho is at the top of his madness. Imploring his master to rise and go forth again as a knight-errant, Sancho expresses his quixotism: to deny death, deny sanity, and once more serve Dulcinea who grants immortality. But he cannot revitalize Don Quixote's disillusioned faith, and he, Sancho, is left as heir to quixotism.
The author's address to his pen underlines again Cervantes' fancy of calling his created characters his "stepchildren." The greatness of Don Quixote has been nowhere manifested in his earlier works, and it is not hard to imagine that Cervantes believed himself to be merely the incidental medium of some creative spirit that fathered the visionary knight. "I alone," writes Cervantes, was born for Don Quixote, and, he should add, his spirit transcends my art.