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Part 1, Chapter 19 Summary

Of the Wise Discourse between Sancho and his Master; as also of the Adventure of the Dead Corpse, and other Famous Occurrences

Sancho Panza believes the misfortunes he and his master have been experiencing are because Quixote has not kept every part of his sworn oath of knighthood. Quixote agrees that he has forgotten some things and says Panza has suffered abuse because he failed to remind his master of them. Panza, of course, does not believe it was his job to remind Quixote and warns the knight to do what he is supposed to do so Panza does not suffer any further harm or disgrace.

They do not find shelter before it gets dark and are starving since they have no money because the squire’s wallet was stolen. As they travel “dolefully in the dark,” the men suddenly see many lights ahead of them. The lights approach and get larger as they come; the men are awestruck at the sight. Panza is dismayed and sees some kind of abuse in his near future; Quixote, however, is certain that he will be able to defend them both in a fight now that they are in the open field rather than the enchanted walls of some castle or inn.

The two men move off the road and watch the lights approach. It is an eerie funeral procession. In front are riders dressed all in white and carrying torches. Behind them is a hearse covered with black and six men in deep mourning riding six black mules. It is a dreadful sight, and Panza trembles; his courage has left him. Quixote sees the same sight and imagines it to be a scene straight from one of his romance adventure books. The dead man is undoubtedly some slain knight; so Quixote takes up his lance, sits firmly in his saddle, and waits for the procession to approach.

When the group draws near, Quixote challenges the men, asking what happened to the slain knight and vowing to avenge his death if necessary. One of the men in white dismisses Quixote and says they have no time for such questions and must hurry to an inn. He spurs his mule forward, but Quixote is not satisfied with the man’s reply and holds the mule’s bridle and stops his progress. When the skittish mule rears on his hind legs and throws the rider in white, one of the footmen begins to curse Quixote, which is the beginning of a fight. Quixote is incensed and strikes out at the first man he can find, one of the mourners. After he pummels that man to the ground, Quixote rages in fury at the others. The unarmed men are no match for Quixote so they disperse, their torches glowing all across the plain.

The mourners are befuddled and believe Quixote is some kind of devil come to steal the body they are escorting to a funeral, and they also run. Panza is astonished at everything he sees and is again convinced that his master is “the formidable champion” which he always boasts of being. Quixote finds the man who had been thrown by his...

(The entire section is 808 words.)