Part 1, Chapter 18 Summary
Of the Discourse Between the Knight and the Squire, With Other Matters Worth Relating
Sancho Panza finally catches up with his master but he is so “pale, so dead-hearted, and so mortified” that he can barely stay seated on his donkey. Don Quixote tells his squire that he is certain the castle, or inn, must have been enchanted because normal people would not have abused Panza so, for when Quixote tried to rescue Panza he could not surmount the wall or even dismount. The squire is equally certain there was no enchantment and they should go back home before they are unable to walk at all because of their misadventures.
Quixote says Panza clearly has no understanding of chivalry and how honorable their mission is. There is nothing more satisfying than defeating one’s enemy, he says; Panza says this is something he has had no experience with, as they have always been the vanquished. All Quixote has won is the loss of an ear, a broken visor, uncountable blows, and innumerable bruises. The squire would love to vanquish even one of the foes who have so abused him.
His master quickly agrees that they are “both sick of the same disease,” and Quixote determines to procure such an artful sword that anyone who wears it will be protected, even from any sort of enchantment. Panza is not convinced, certain that such a sword might be useful to a knight but utterly useless in protecting his squire.
A cloud of dust appears in the distance. Quixote is confident this is the day and the enemy for which they have been waiting; the cloud of dust is two mighty armies preparing to clash on the road ahead of them. His imagination is so crowded with the adventures, enchantments, and battles he has read about that Quixote transforms anything he sees into what he imagines it to be and is unable to discern that the cloud of dust is from two different flocks of sheep converging on the road ahead. So convinced and convincing is Quixote, though, that Panza eventually believes Quixote’s vision.
Quixote, in his fancy, explains to his squire exactly who is fighting whom and Panza chooses sides and swears to defend one leader over the other. Quixote claims they will be in possession of countless horses at the end of today’s battle. The flocks are close enough now that the men could have seen that it was sheep if the dust had not obstructed them. Instead, Quixote looks at the cloud of dust and sees what is not there, In great detail, he describes the armor, weapons, colors, mottoes, and horses of each army’s fearless leader—as well as many others in each man’s army.
Now Quixote begins to explain, again in great detail, each of the nations which have assembled for battle. He lists so many nations and so many particular details which distinguish one from the other that Panza is amazed and tries to discern even one of the fantastic giants through the dust cloud; but he is unable to discover even one. Now he...
(The entire section is 792 words.)