Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary
Giving an Account of Don Quixote’s Unfortunate Encounter With Certain Bloody-Minded and Wicked Yanguesian Carriers
After Don Quixote leaves Chrysostom’s funeral, he and his squire wander through the woods for two hours looking for Marcella. When they do not find her, they sit in a meadow and eat their lunch. Panza does not tie Rozinante, and normally the docile horse would not be tempted to leave his master. This afternoon, however, some Yanguesian carriers are resting in a nearby field and have left their mares free to eat and drink.
Rozinante is drawn to them; however, they are not enticed by his advances. In fact, they attack the poor steed with their hooves and teeth, disrobing him of all his gear. The carriers are also insulted by Rozinante’s ungentlemanly behavior and beat the horse until he sinks to the ground “under the weight of their unmerciful blows.”
When Quixote and the squire perceive what is happening, they immediately run toward Rozinante. As they draw close, panting at the exertion, Quixote sees the carriers as a “pack of scoundrels and fellows of the lowest rank” and wants to punish their actions. Panza is afraid, pointing out that the odds are twenty to two—or more accurately, one and a half. Quixote believes he is equal to a hundred and immediately draws his sword and flies at the Yanguesians; the squire does the same.
The knight-errant strikes the first blow and cuts one of the carriers; this causes his comrades to grab their staves and levers. The carriers surround the two attackers and furiously charge them. Panza is the first to fall, and Quixote falls practically on top of the still-prone Rozinante. The rustic men are afraid at what they have just done and immediately gather their mares and depart, leaving the fallen men in woeful condition.
Panza is the first to awaken and asks the fallen knight for some wine to speed his healing. Unfortunately, Quixote has no wine but promises to get some when he has recovered. He blames himself for their current condition, knowing that these men were not knights and therefore he should not have attacked them. It may be that God allowed this punishment to befall him for transgressing the laws of chivalry.
Quixote warns Panza that from now on, whenever they meet such rough characters, he will not be raising a sword to harm them. If, however, they are accosted by knights, Quixote will never hesitate to defend his squire from them. Panza also makes a promise: if anyone, knight or not, attacks him, he will never fight back. He “freely forgives all mankind, high and low, rich and poor, lords and beggars, whatever wrongs they did or may do to me, without the least exception.” Quixote asks him if he would be so docile if someone tried to take over the island he is not yet ruler of, for an honorable ruler must always demonstrate his willingness to exact revenge and defend himself and his people.
Panza wishes he had such valor, but now he needs treatment more than a sermon. As a...
(The entire section is 797 words.)