Don Quixote Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary

Of the High Adventure and Conquest of Mambrino’s Helmet, With Other Events Relating to Our Invincible Knight

It is raining, but Quixote is ashamed and will not seek shelter; instead he starts riding and soon espies a horseman wearing something glittering with gold on his head. This, says Quixote, will be a true adventure, as the rider is obviously wearing Mambrino’s helmet. Panza sees only a rider wearing something shiny on his head, but he does not confront his master for fear of being beaten.

The stranger is a barber riding a grey donkey and wearing a brass bowl on his head, but Quixote sees a knight on a grey steed wearing the famous helmet. The knight-errant positions his lance and charges the poor man; the barber’s only defense is to fall off his donkey and run away, which he does, leaving his basin behind. Quixote claps the enchanted helmet on his head, though Panza quickly realizes it is only a basin. Since Quixote does not know of any specific law of chivalry against taking an opponent’s animal, he allows Panza to trade his poor creature for the barber’s better animal.

As they follow the high road, Panza talks to Quixote about some of his concerns. He wonders why Quixote is so committed to doing all his deeds where no one can see them or give him any glory. Quixote patiently explains his delusional belief that a knight must prove himself by traveling the world. His deeds will then be made known to kings, and the knight (Quixote) will be treated with glorious honor. Quixote will be attended on and feted in every way. He will be given one of the richest apartments in the kingdom, dine with the king and queen, and become the object of affection for the lovely princess. It will be the Quixote’s good fortune if the king is at war, so the knight-errant will fight for him in the princess’s name. The princess...

(The entire section is 506 words.)