I shall never be fool enough to turn knight-errant. For I see quite well that it’s not the fashion now to do as they did in the olden days when they say those famous knights roamed the world.
In this passage from Chapter XXXII of the First Part, the innkeeper responds to the priest, who has been trying to convince him that books of chivalry are not true. Though the innkeeper defends the books, he says that he will never try to live like Don Quixote because he realizes that knight-errantry is outdated. The innkeeper’s remark is important for several reasons. First, it inspires Sancho, who overhears the remark, to resolve—as he does at so many points throughout the novel—to return to his wife and children because knight-errantry has fallen out of fashion. The fact that Sancho does not leave Don Quixote becomes even more poignant when juxtaposed with his temptations to leave.
Second, this quotation highlights the priest’s hypocritical nature. The innkeeper appreciates knight-errantry from a distance, but the priest, who plays the role of inquisitor against Don Quixote throughout much of the novel, cannot escape his fascination with knight-errantry. The priest furtively encourages Don Quixote’s madness so that he may live vicariously through him.