Don Quixote Chapter 9: Summary & Analysis

Instructor: Joseph Altnether

Joe has taught college English courses for several years, has a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a Master's degree in English literature.

The narrator of Cervantes' Don Quixote becomes the center of attention during chapter nine. He searches for ending to a battle between Don Quixote and his nemesis, Basque. He finds the ending to the story, but told from another perspective, one that is not exactly agreeable.

End of the Story is Missing

A favorite television series, or even movie, ends on a cliffhanger. The audience is left in suspense, waiting for the next adventure. The ratings, however, are low, and do not warrant a return to the series. So what happens next? How do fans know what happened to their favorite characters? Unless there is sufficient outcry to bring the series back to life, they probably never will. This circumstance is similar to what the narrator faces in the opening of Cervantes's ninth chapter to Don Quixote.

The battle between Don Quixote and Basque is reaching a fever pitch. The men are about to deliver the killing blow. The story does not reach its climax, for the story is interrupted. The narrator does not know where ''to find the missing part.'' The conclusion to this epic battle has to be recorded somewhere. It is inconceivable that this story ''could have been left maimed and mutilated.'' So what does the narrator do? He goes out in search of other texts.

The Missing Pages Are Found, Sort of

By chance, while out looking for a story about Don Quixote that might include the ending to his battle with Basque, he comes across a man selling ''parchments and old papers.'' Drawn to all sorts of stories and writings, he goes up to the man and asks to look at the papers. They all seem to be written in Arabic. That presents a problem. Fortunately for the narrator, he finds someone who can translate the pages for him.

In sifting through the writing, the translator mentions that there is a woman from La Mancha. His interest piqued, the narrator asks for further information about the story. He learns that the name of this story is a History of Don Quixote. Upon hearing this, he buys up all the papers. He pays a minimal price, but admits he would have paid much more if asked. All these pages are in Arabic. He goes to the man who translated for him and offers to pay him to translate the rest of the story.

Unable to wait for the story that lies hidden to him in these pages, he moves the man to his house and has him translate the work. After six weeks, he learns that he will finally learn what happened between Basque and Don Quixote. This isn't the same story that he originally read. It is told from a different perspectve, perhaps even a different history of events. To the narrator, ''no story is bad if it is truthful.'' Isn't that the aim of a historian?

Is the Story Biased?

While reading the story, the narrator makes some references to the author of this text. He notices that Don Quixote isn't praised as much as he thinks he should be. Instead of praise, he finds that Don Quixote is ''passed on in silence.'' This upsets him primarily because he is a Spaniard, and sees Don Quixote as a historic and praiseworthy figure of Spanish literature. This, unfortunately, is not his only problem with the story.

The narrator of Cervantes' story believes that because this tale is told in Arabic, there is quite a bit of bias, possibly even disinformation. The reason for this belief is that ''men of that nation (Arabia) being ready liars.'' This upsets the narrator. He believes that even though Spaniards and Arabs might be enemies, as a historian he has an obligation to tell the truth. Based on what he is reading in the translated task, he believes the truth to be tainted.

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