Don Quixote Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Part 1, Chapter 13 Summary

A Continuation of the Story of Marcella

It is barely dawn and five goatherds, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza, leave for the funeral service. In a short time they meet six shepherds wearing black skins, crowned with cypress-tree garlands, and carrying long staves made of holly. Behind them are two gentlemen on horseback accompanied by three servants on foot. After greeting one another, the strangers decide to travel together to the funeral.  

One of the men on horseback, Vivaldo, explains that the shepherds who are wearing black in mourning told them about “the dead shepherd and his murdering mistress” and he and his companion want to see the funeral for themselves. Quixote asks what his fellow travelers have heard about Chrysostom and Marcella, and it is much the same story which Quixote heard last night.

When Vivaldo asks Quixote why he is so heavily armed in such a peaceable country, the knight-errant tells him it is part of the profession he has chosen. A life of luxury is for “effeminate courtiers.” A knight-errant must live a life of labor, arms, and vigilance, and Quixote is the unworthiest of that brotherhood. Vivaldo knows nothing about knight-errantry, and of course Quixote takes the opportunity to regale the strangers with many stories from his extensive reading. This recounting is enough to convince the astonished travelers that Quixote is not completely rational, and the mischievous Vivaldo decides to amuse himself at the old man’s expense.

Vivaldo suggests that the life of a knight-errant is even more stringent than that of a friar who has taken an oath of austerity. While Quixote does not believe that his calling is higher than a man of God’s, he does believe that being a knight-errant is much more difficult: bloodier, hungrier, thirstier, and more miserable. Despite the assistance of kings and emperors, sages and enchanters, knights-errant lead difficult lives. Vivaldo is dismayed that such men commit their lives and exploits to their ladies but not to God.

Quixote explains that this is the long-held tradition of knights-errant. Each man must, when faced with adversity or beginning a battle, keep the face of his lady ever in his mind. Vivaldo suggests a dying knight probably wishes he had commended himself more often to God than his lady, and he is certain that every knight does not have a lady to love. Quixote disagrees and explains that “it is not more essential for the skies to have stars” than it for knights to be in love. Every knight he has ever read about has been in love, and Vivaldo wants the old man to tell them all about the lady he loves.

Of course Quixote has no shortage of words to describe every aspect of Dulcinea’s perfection of features and character. Just as he begins to wind down, Vivaldo asks Quixote about Dulcinea’s heritage and of course Quixote offers a peon of praise for everyone connected to her. Her lineage is so extraordinary that Quixotic is surprised that none of his listeners have ever heard of the Tobosos of Toledo before now.

Now even the goatherds and shepherds are...

(The entire section is 806 words.)