Don Quixote Discussion Questions
- Describe the ‘Author’s Preface’ in the opening and discuss why the narrator starts the story in this style? How does this preface establish the style of the novel genre?
The “Author’s Preface” in the opening of Don Quixote establishes the style of the novel as a parody of chivalric romance literature. The narrator starts the story in this style to mock the conventions and exaggerations of these types of stories.
- Find other instances in the novel where the narrator interrupts the story and explain why, regarding the formal features of this novel.
Throughout the novel, the narrator interrupts the story to provide commentary on the events and characters, often highlighting the absurdity and unrealistic nature of the story.
- Who is Don Quixote and how and why does he turn in to a ‘knight-errant’?
Don Quixote is a wealthy landowner who becomes obsessed with chivalric romance literature and decides to become a “knight-errant” to right wrongs and defend the helpless.
- List and define the major characters/figures in Don Quixote’s new identity of knight-errantry. How does he name these characters?
Some major characters in Don Quixote’s new identity include Dulcinea, his lady love who only exists in his imagination, and his squire, Sancho Panza. He names these characters after figures in chivalric literature.
- Summarize Don Quixote’s first adventure at the inn and discuss his encounters with the people at the inn.
In his first adventure, Don Quixote encounters people at an inn whom he believes to be part of a noble adventure, but in reality, they are commoners going about their daily business. This highlights his disconnection from reality.
- Why does Don Quixote decide to return back home first before moving on with other adventures? Explain the incidence on the way back with the beaten boy and discuss its significance within the larger themes of the novel.
Don Quixote decides to return home before continuing with more adventures due to the injuries and humiliations he suffered on his first adventure. On the way back, he encounters a beaten boy and decides to help him, showing his genuine desire to help others.
- Who are the curate and the barber, what are their reactions to Don Quixote’s interest in books? Do you think there is any significance to the occupations/titles of these two figures?
The curate and the barber are both friends of Don Quixote who are worried about his obsession with books. They are both educated men, and their reactions to his interest in books highlight the societal pressure for people to conform to societal norms.
- Summarize how Don Quixote finds and employs Sancho. Then compare and contrast these two characters with example events that demonstrate their respective character?
Don Quixote employs Sancho as his squire, promising him the governorship of an island. Sancho is a simple and practical man, in contrast to Don Quixote’s idealistic and chivalrous nature.
- Describe the famous adventure of the windmills and discuss its significance in the novel.
The famous adventure of the windmills sees Don Quixote attacking windmills, believing them to be giants. This highlights his delusional and unrealistic mindset.
- Explain why the book ends abruptly in Chapter VIII. How does it start again? Why, do you think the narrator chose such a narrative structure?
The book ends abruptly in Chapter VIII because it is a parody of chivalric romances, which often ended abruptly and were continued in another volume. It starts again because the narrator wants to continue to mock the conventions of these types of stories.
- What is a the balsam of fierabras? What does it symbolize in the novel?
The balsam of Fierabras is a fictional healing potion that symbolizes the unrealistic and fantastical nature of chivalric literature.
- How does the novel address issues of class and society? Focus on ch. III and IV of Book 2.
The novel addresses issues of class and society by highlighting the divide between the wealthy, educated elite and the lower classes, who are often looked down upon.
- Explain the story of Marcella and discuss its significance regarding the overall themes of the novel.
The story of Marcella is a fictional story within the novel that highlights the societal pressure for women to conform to traditional gender roles.
- Explain the vomiting instance in ch. III of Book 3.
The vomiting incident in Chapter III of Book 3 is a humorous moment that highlights the absurdity of the characters’ actions.
- Don Quixote is a novel about storytelling, among many other things. There are lots of instances of storytelling in the novel. Focus on ch. VI of Book 3 and analyze the dialogue between Don Quixote and Sancho.
In Chapter VI of Book 3, Don Quixote and Sancho have a dialogue about storytelling, which highlights the power of storytelling to shape people’s perceptions of reality.
- Describe the criminals condemned to the galleys and discuss their answers to Don Quixote with regards to the theme of the novel.
The criminals condemned to the galleys represent the marginalized and oppressed members of society, their answers to Don Quixote highlight the futile nature of his chivalrous quest.
- Summarize Cardenio’s story and analyze its significance with regards to the society at the time and the overall themes of the novel.
Cardenio’s story is a fictional story within the novel that highlights societal issues such as arranged marriages, class distinctions and the role of women.