The canon keeps going on and on about whether knight adventure books are good or bad. He admits that it's not always a question of the books themselves, but sometimes of the way people interpret them.
But what's even worse than books, the canon says, are plays done on the stage. He especially hates it when plays aren't realistic. How are we supposed to believe it, for example, when a dude we saw when he was young five minutes ago has suddenly aged 10 years between acts? Or how about people travelling thousands of miles between scenes?
The canon eventually draws the conclusion that good books and good plays must delight audiences, but even more importantly, they must instruct them to live good lives. So he might not have been the biggest fan of a show like Family Guy.
The canon believes that there should be a government official who approves or disapproves of books or plays before they're published or performed. He envisions something like the FCC, which we have nowadays. Who would have thought that censorship would be stronger today than it was in the 1600s? But it's kind of true.
At this point, Sancho gets fed up and tells Don Quixote that the barber and the curate are the ones leading him home, not weird spirits.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 22
In this chapter, Don Quixote and the canon bicker about how many stories of knights' adventures are historically true and how many aren't. The canon admits that there might be some truth in them, but it's all very vague. Don Quixote, on the other hand, insists that they're all true. He shows just how intelligent his deranged brain can actually be.
It turns out that intelligence can be a weapon against reason as much as a weapon for it.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 23
The canon isn't willing to lose the argument about the stuff that happens in adventure books; but of course, Don Quixote isn't backing down anytime soon either.
As they travel, the members of the group come upon another goatherd. This one is punishing one of his female goats for running away. It seems like the guy has a problem with the fact that the goat is female. And when he's asked by the group whether he has an interesting story to tell, he invites them all to gather around…
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 24
The goatherd tells the group that his name is Eugenio and that he has a rival named Anselmo who's competing with him for the love of a great woman.
This dude named Vincent came by their village, though, and was all style and no substance. The great lady totally fell for it. The guy didn't even have any money, just a little charm and a guitar. But you know the whole rock-and-roll thing.
The girl ran off with Vincent and took a bunch of her father's riches with her. But then the guy led her away, stole her money, and left her.
Anselmo and Eugenio were disappointed at how this all shook down, so they both left their town. Compared to the other stories we've heard, this one's just a bit of filler, really.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 25
Don Quixote finally pipes up (he seems to be outside his wooden cage now) and tells Eugenio that he would totally help him out if he could... if only he weren't enchanted.
Eugenio gives Don Quixote the stink eye and tells him he's crazy. Don Quixote takes exception to this and the two of them fight.
Of course, Eugenio gets on top of Don Quixote pretty quickly and starts beating his brains in.
But Sancho Panza comes to Don Quixote's aid and helps turn the tide just enough to make a good fight of it.
Eventually, though, the goatherd gets the best of both of them, and he only stops when he gets tired of beating them.
When the fight is over, the group notices a bunch of people walking toward them all dressed in white. They are actually a group of people praying for rain to come.
These people are carrying a picture of a great lady (actually the Virgin Mary). Don Quixote, on the other hand, thinks that this picture of a woman is actually a woman being carried away against her will. And he commands the men to let her go. The men have no clue what he's talking about, but one of them comes at him with a big wooden fork and whacks him with it. Don Quixote (as always) falls off his horse.
The man is scared that he's killed the Don, so he runs away.
Don Quixote's friends come to help, but the people in white are ready for them. Meanwhile, Sancho wails about the loss of the world's greatest knight.
But it turns out that the Don is still alive.
Six days later, they finally get him back to his house. Don Quixote's niece and housekeeper can't believe he's back. They also wail at what terrible condition he's in after his adventures.
When Sancho returns home, he also gets an earful from his wife.
The final sections of Part 1 totally foreshadow and tell us that by the end of this book, Don Quixote will die. It also gives us some clues on what to expect in Part 2—which Cervantes, of course, hadn't written yet.