Saturday, October 15, 2011
A development in Don Quixote's character - during one of the most famous episodes in the novel
The episode in "Don Quixote" in which Sancho Panza gets tossed in a blanket - a frightening event to which he will refer many times over the course of the novel - occurs about 100 pages in, that is, lass than half-way through book one (it's actually surprising how many of the famous episodes do occur in the first hundred pages or so - notably the windmill tilting) - it's a framing episode for the entire novel I think, a case in which Don Q leaves the inn without paying (he thought it was a castle - when he relizes it was just an inn he explains that errant knights never have to pay for the lodging because of the many valiant deeds they perform) - he hobbles off on Rocinante, leaving Sancho behind to pay the price so to speak - and Sancho gets tossed many times in a blanket by some of the ruffians at the inn - oddly, he doesn't get hurt at all, whereas in many other instances he is badly beaten, but this is the episode that stays with him in memory and fear: because it is so humiliating, because he is so out of control, perhaps because of the strange thrill he may have gotten from being tossed in the air. Strikingly, Quixote hears Sancho's cries and returns to the inn and is about to charge onto the scene to rescur his squire, at which point the men let Sancho go free. We see here a development in Quixote's sensibility, willing to put himself at risk not for an abstract ideal but to save the life of a devoted servant - and friend. More on class relations - the breakdown of the feudal order and the rise of a new way of thinking - in future posts.