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Chapter XX

Don Quixote and Sancho arrive at the wedding, which the narrator describes in great detail. Sancho praises Quiteria for marrying for wealth rather than love, but Don Quixote does not.

Chapter XXI

Quiteria and Camacho arrive at the wedding. Basilio shows up and throws himself on his dagger. With his dying breath, he refuses to confess himself to God unless Quiteria will marry him. Quiteria agrees. Basilio reveals that it is a trick—he has not stabbed himself at all. A brawl ensues. Don Quixote halts it, announcing that no one has the right to fight over wrongs committed in the name of love. Basilio and Quiteria remain married, and Camacho takes satisfaction in the idea that Quiteria would always have loved Basilio anyway. Don Quixote and Sancho leave the party to accompany the newlyweds.

Analysis: Chapters XVI–XXI

Don Quixote is a changed man in the Second Part of the novel. He is milder and wiser, less belligerent, less gullible, and more compassionate toward those he meets. The incident with the lions exemplifies this change in his nature, since he neither attacks the mule-driver for contradicting him nor insists on provoking the lion. The Don Quixote of the First Part would almost certainly do both. Don Quixote’s discussion with Don Lorenzo about poetry reveals a deep intellect that rarely shows itself directly in the First Part. Much like his master, Sancho also matures into a wiser and fuller character. In this second part, we learn about Sancho’s family, fears, vanities, and greedy and gluttonous nature but also see his fidelity to Don Quixote. Both Don Quixote and Sancho more frequently engage in conversations with other characters, fleshing out the deeper aspects of their personalities.

Whereas Don Quixote often appears alienated from the main plot in the First Part, in the Second Part he remains involved in the action even when the action imitates the style of the First Part. Even Camacho’s wedding, one of the few events in the Second Part that strongly recalls the First Part, does not alienate Don Quixote. As in each of the subplots in the First Part, Cervantes presents the relevant characters, whose lives prove important because they influence the outcome of the novel and inform its major themes. Camacho’s wedding raises questions about the supremacy of love—one of Don Quixote’s obsessions—and about the wisdom of stepping outside class distinctions, an issue that figures prominently in Sancho’s governorship later in the Second Part. Don Quixote’s quelling of the brawl by nonviolent means involves him in the event and illustrates a change in him that is consistent with his maturation. Camacho’s wedding bears directly on Don Quixote’s character and plot advancement, unlike, for example, Anselmo’s story or even the captive’s tale in the First Part. The Second Part, on the whole, is more fluid than the First Part precisely because Don Quixote involves himself in the events.

In these chapters, we see that Cide Hamete Benengeli’s perspective on Don Quixote’s actions begins to differ from Cervantes’s. Benengeli’s praise of Don Quixote’s bravery in the battle with the lions, for instance, contrasts with Cervantes’s own reference to Don Quixote’s “childish bravado.” These competing authorial perspectives highlight the underlying need for us, as readers, to judge Don Quixote’s fantasies by ourselves. In the Second Part, as characters start to modify their behavior according to Don Quixote’s ideas and as Don Quixote’s antics impact the other characters less harshly, Cervantes emphasizes the positive sides of Don Quixote’s faith against the backdrop of an outdated moral system. Whereas Don Quixote’s personality is dangerously anachronistic earlier in the novel, it now appears endearing and quaint.