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Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary

What Happened to Don Quixote in the Inn Which He Took for a Castle

When the innkeeper sees Don Quixote “lying quite athwart” on the donkey, he is concerned. Panza says nothing at all is wrong with him except that he fell from the top of a rock top the bottom and has some bruises on his sides. The innkeeper’s wife is a compassionate woman who, along with her daughter, immediately begins caring for Quixote. They are assisted by a rather odd-looking servant from the inn, Maritornes, a woman only three feet tall and too heavy for her body.

The bed the women make for Quixote is in a sorry room, a loft, which used to contain straw. The carrier also lodges here, and his corner of the loft is far nicer than the knight’s. Quixote is laid in this “ungracious bed” and the innkeeper’s wife smears his body with ointment. She does not believe a fall alone could have caused Quixote’s bruising, but Panza insists it was a particularly violent rock. He asks the woman to save some ointment for him, as his back is also hurting. He was so frightened at the sight of his master falling down the rock that he is as sore as if he had fallen down the rock himself. The innkeeper’s daughter understands, as she has several times dreamed of falling out of a tower, only to find in the morning that her body feels as if it actually happened.

The squire explains that this is Don Quixote de la Mancha, one of the bravest knights-errant the world has ever known. He has to explain to the women that a knight-errant is one of the grandest men in the world. While one moment he might be horribly beaten and bruised, in the next he might be an emperor who gives a kingdom or two to his squire. When the women question why the Panza does not at least have an earldom by now, he tells her they have only been at this business for a month and have often looked for one kind of adventure only to find another. If Panza escapes being crippled, he will keep fighting for his share of their grand winnings.

Quixote has been listening and in elegant prose tells the woman that she should be honored to have him in her castle, for he will remember her kindness and show his gratitude to her as well as the beautiful Maritornes. The women, of course, do not understand his lofty language but know they have been complimented. Maritornes remains to rub ointment on Panza but had already made plans to spend the night with the carrier. After the muleteer sees to his animals, he lies down to wait for the punctual Maritornes. Everyone is asleep, but in the peaceful silence Quixote’s mind begins to work and he imagines himself in a famous castle. He also imagines that the innkeeper’s daughter has promised to come visit him.

Just as he decides that he must remain faithful to his beloved Dulcinea, Maritornes quietly makes her way to the carrier’s bed. Quixote hears her and draws her beside him on his bed. Her crude clothing and person are transformed in his imagination into a...

(The entire section is 816 words.)