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Volume 2, Chapter 1 Notes from Don Quixote

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Don Quixote Volume 2, Chapter 1

Sidi Hamid Benegeli is the chronicler of Don Quijote's third time out as knight errant. It has been a month since his return home, during which his niece and housekeeper have been feeding him well and doting on him. They tell the priest and the barber (who have deliberately stayed away from Don Quijote, so as not to remind him of knight errantry) that he is cured of his madness. Skeptical about this quick return to sanity, they decide to pay him a visit. They find him decked out in flannel and sporting a red cap, looking like a dried out mummy. They all talk about the government, and the various improvements they would make (if they were in charge), Don Quijote speaking wisely and sensibly. The priest decides to test the waters. He tells Don Quijote that word has it, from the court at Madrid, that the Turks will attack Spain with a huge armada. The King of Spain had already sent extra soldiers to various coasts in readiness for the attack.

Don Quijote feels His Majesty has done well; but, wishes the king would adopt an additional plan -- that Don Quijote has -- one the king probably hasn't even thought of. The barber says that kings always get many senseless ideas from people.

"'Mine, Sir Scraper and Shaver,' said Don Quijote, 'would be sensible, not senseless.'" Volume 2, Chapter 1, pg. 363

After the priest and barber soothe his ruffled feathers, Don Quijote, busting with excitement, tells them of his great plan. The king need only make a public announcement requesting all knight errants to appear in front of him on a specific day, and surely one of them would be up to the task of single-handedly bringing down the Turks! He speaks ofAmadís of Gaul and how in the historical books of knight errantry knight errants have won similar victories. He says that God will again send the people a brave knight errant -- but he'll say no more on that subject right now! The niece yells out her disappointment that her uncle means to become a knight errant again. Don Quijote tells them all that he will be a knight errant till he dies -- so much for rehabilitation!

The barber asks to tell a short tale that will illustrate nicely the dynamics of this current situation. Once upon a time, in Seville, there was a lunatic asylum. A man, who was a university graduate with a law degree, had been placed there by his family after he had become insane. After residing at the asylum for a long time, the man believes he is now sane. He writes a well-written letter to the archbishop begging his assistance in releasing him from the asylum. He says his family is keeping him in there, so they do not have to share his part of the family wealth. The archbishop sends a chaplain to investigate this claim. The asylum director tells the chaplain that the graduate is still quite nuts; although, able to speak sanely at times, crazed idiocies would soon follow. The chaplain, after speaking with the graduate, believes he is sane and tells the director to release him.

The graduate asks to say good-bye to some of his cell mates. He tells one man, in a cage, to have faith -- because if he can get well and leave -- he can too. In another cage, an utterly naked man tells him to lie low after he gets out or they'll send him back. The graduate tells the man that he is now completely sane and need not fear this. This angers the madman, who says he will now punish the town of Seville for releasing a madman. As "Jupiter the Thunderer" he can destroy the planet with thunderbolts, but instead will only bring a three year drought on the city of Seville. The university graduate tells the chaplain to pay this no mind; as he himself is Neptune and has the power to make it rain anytime, anywhere. The chaplain tells him that he prefers not to irritate Jupiter, so he'll come back for him another day.

Topic Tracking: Grandiosity 22

Don Quijote gets the point, but denies this story's connection to him and refers to the barber as his "razor-stropping friend" (pg. 367) to invalidate the barber's insightful view into Don Quijote's delusions. Don Quijote launches off on a passionate validation of knight errantry and then tells them:

"[A]nd I, for all that, will stay in my asylum, if there's no chaplain to take me out of it, and if that Jupiter, as the barber tells us, won't rain, well, here I am, and I'll rain whenever I want to. Which I say because I want Mr. Barber-Basin to know I understand him." Volume 2, Chapter 1, pg. 368

The barber denies that he meant any insult to Don Quijote, but Don Quijote is not buying it this time. The priest says, that if he is to be honest, he is not entirely convinced that these knight errants were real people -- that perhaps they are myths and fables. Don Quijote says he has often run into people who have the same mistaken disbelief and that he is often successful in bringing them around and proceeds to try to convince the priest. This conversation is interrupted when they hear the niece and the housekeeper outside yelling and they all get up to see what is happening.

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