The dishonorable lover of Doña Rodriguez’s daughter, whom Don Quixote intends to fight, has fled the country. The Duke orders the lover’s footman, Tosilos, to take his place in the duel against Don Quixote. Meanwhile, as Sancho and Dapple head toward the castle, they encounter a group of German pilgrims along with Sancho’s old neighbor, Ricote the Moor, who left Spain when the king exiled the Moors. Ricote, who is on his way home to dig up some treasure he buried there, complains about his separation from his family during his exile. Sancho tells Ricote about his governorship, and Ricote asks what Sancho gained from his term in government. Sancho answers that he learned that he cannot govern anything but a herd of cattle.
After leaving Ricote, Sancho and Dapple fall into a pit from which they cannot escape. Don Quixote finds them and gets others to help them out. Don Quixote and Sancho head back to the castle, where Sancho tells the Duke and Duchess about the end of his governorship. The Duke says he is grieved that Sancho has left his post as governor so soon but says that he will find Sancho a better position at the castle. The Duchess says she will have someone care for Sancho’s badly bruised body.
On the day of the duel, the Duke removes the steel tips from the lances so neither of the combatants will be killed and takes several other measures to ensure a harmless fight. When Tosilos sees Doña Rodriguez’s daughter, however, he falls in love and refuses to charge Don Quixote. Instead, he proposes to the daughter. Thinking that he is the farmer’s son, she accepts but soon discovers the trick. Don Quixote assures the Duke that this transformation is nothing but the work of an evil enchanter, but the Duke, knowing the truth, locks up Tosilos.
Don Quixote and Sancho bid the Duke and Duchess farewell and Sancho happily receives Teresa’s letters from the Duchess. As the pair starts to leave, however, Altisidora, pretending to be crushed that Don Quixote does not love her, utters a curse, in sonnet form, against him. She berates his cruelty to her and accuses him of stealing three handkerchiefs and a garter. But when the Duke questions her, she admits that she has the garter.
On the road, Don Quixote and Sancho encounter some workmen carrying icons of saints to a nearby church. Don Quixote greatly admires the icons. In a wood beside the road, Don Quixote becomes entangled in some bird snares, which he mistakes for an evil enchantment. The two shepherdesses who set the snares appear and invite Don Quixote and Sancho to the new pastoral paradise they and others from their village are trying to create. Don Quixote declines the invitation but is very impressed. He vows to stand in the middle of the highway for two days, forcing everyone who passes to admit that these two shepherdesses are the most beautiful maids in the world after Dulcinea. Shortly after Don Quixote takes up his position on the road, however, a herd of bulls comes down the road. The herdsmen warn Don Quixote to step aside, but Don Quixote, Sancho, Rocinante, and Dapple are crushed.
Don Quixote and Sancho stop at an inn, which Don Quixote, for once, does not mistake for a castle. Eating supper, they encounter two gentlemen who have read the counterfeit sequel to the First Part of Don Qui-xote. Don Quixote exposes the book as a fake and the men criticize the book vehemently. Don Quixote also refuses to read the book, not wanting to give its author cause to gloat that people are reading it. When the two men tell Don Quixote that the false Don Quixote also traveled to Saragossa for a jousting competition, Don Quixote determines that he will never set foot in that town but will go to Barcelona instead.
Sick of waiting for Dulcinea’s disenchantment, Don Quixote tells Sancho he has decided to whip Sancho himself. The two argue. Sancho knocks Don Quixote down and, before letting him up again, makes Don Quixote swear he will not whip him. Don Quixote and Sancho then meet a band of thieves who robs them, although the thieves return the money at the command of their leader, Roque Guinart. Roque recognizes Don Quixote from the stories about him and says he never believed him to be real before now.
After a brief encounter with a distressed young woman who has killed her lover out of mistaken jealousy, Roque allows a group of wealthy individuals to keep most of their money, even giving some to two poor pilgrims traveling with them. Roque then kills one of his thieves for grumbling about his generosity. Roque sends a letter to a friend in Barcelona to alert him to Don Quixote’s imminent arrival.
Don Quixote’s encounter with the two men who have read the sequel to the First Part of the novel further blurs the line between fiction and reality. By this point, Don Quixote has begun to accept reality: he finally sees an inn as merely an inn and accepts that he must pay for his accommodations. Yet his return to reality comes just after the bulls crush him for standing his ground, an act that raises questions about his sanity. Still, he displays an ability to distinguish between the accurate First Part and the counterfeit sequel, refusing to read the sequel and disparaging its falsehood. Adding to the confusion is Don Quixote’s refusal, in Chapter LIX, to go to Saragossa. At the end of the First Part, Cervantes tells us that the history indicates that Don Quixote goes to Saragossa on his next expedition. Now, however, it seems that Cervantes was either wrong or lying, since Don Quixote disobeys the very text in which his exploits are recounted.
As the novel draws toward its close, the status of the knight-errant declines, replaced by the virtue and strength of the peasant. When Sancho overpowers Don Quixote, Don Quixote’s defeat and Sancho’s evolution are nearly complete. Sancho the squire, who at the beginning of the novel would never even consider challenging his master’s word, now physically knocks Don Quixote down without even apologizing, and even forces Don Quixote to swear an oath to him. Sancho’s power and importance in the novel eclipse Don Quixote’s literally trampled stature. At the same time, the chivalric qualities to which Don Quixote adheres so fiercely for so long have begun to lose their hold on him as he becomes a more practical and realistic—and compassionate and caring—human being.
The story of Tosilos, the lackey whom the Duke forces to fight Don Quixote for the Duke’s amusement, is a glaring example of the Duke’s and Duchess’s cruelty. The two combatants fight exclusively for the entertainment of two wealthy people who in their boredom are amused by the travails of the Countess and her dishonored daughter. Though the Duke takes steps to ensure that neither Tosilos nor Don Quixote will get hurt during the battle, he does not tell them that he has done so, because he wants to them to sweat and suffer as though they were in a real battle. Later, when we learn that Tosilos has been locked up for his refusal to fight and that Doña Rodriguez’s daughter has been sent to a convent, the despicable nature of the Duke and Duchess becomes even clearer. Moreover, while the Duke and Duchess outwardly express grief for Sancho’s troubled governorship, Cervantes writes about this grief with irony and doubts its sincerity. Though the Duke and Duchess claim to be upset at Sancho’s “signs of having been badly bruised and worse treated,” it is clear that Sancho does not merely have “signs” of bruises but that he is bruised. The Duke and Duchess meddle with their servants’ lives merely for the sake of meddling, showing a clear enjoyment of power and a lack of compassion for others.