Commenting the »Quixote«. A start towards dangerous adventures
At the beginning of Chapter Two, Don Quixote leaves home before dawn. Francisco Rico comments: „La salida furtiva del caballero novel es habitual en los libros de caballerías“1.
The comment of Rico, based on the libros de caballerías, is correct. But there is another explanation, carefully prepared by Cervantes in Chapter One. He only alludes to it, for it is likewise funny and delicate. Our hero, determined to challenge ten giants at a time, does not know how to deal with women, especially with young ladies. At the end of the chapter Cervantes mentions that once he fell in love. His beloved was a peasant girl from El Toboso, Aldonza Lorenzo. But he did not propose, even did not dare to show what he felt for her: «un tiempo anduvo enamorado, aunque, según se entiende, ella jamás lo supo ni le dio cata dello». There can be no doubt, Don Quixote is shy. This is a paradoxical and somehow ridiculous situation for a grown-up man.
Cervantes, on the other hand, is discreet, and only hints at the fact, a fact that explains why he starts so early in the morning. He does not dare to take leave from the women of his household, the old housekeeper and his young niece. Cervantes is a smartie. At the beginning of Chapter One he only mentioned their existence, together with a mozo de campo y plaza. Even now he is not willing to elucidate the reader on the emotional background. For he has spared the obvious solution for the end of Chapter Five.
Don Quixote, beaten up badly by one of the muleteers of the merchants of Toledo is brought home by his young neighbor, carried helplessly on his ass. When they approach Don Quixote's house they already hear the shrill voices of the housekeeper and the niece, scolding and complaining. And what is worse is that they can find no end raising a hue and cry. Then the amused reader knows why Don Quixote, instead of taking leave of his women, marched off furtively at dawn. Slaying ten giants is relatively easy compared with a confrontation with the eloquent glibness of two women.
1 Cf. the critical edition
by Francisco Rico, Barcelona 1998, vol. I, p. 45.