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ArribaAbajo Andrés in Don Quixote: A Cervantine Picaro

Catherine E. Bourque

Ronald J. Quirk

Quinnipiac College

Don Quijote considera a Andrés (capítulos 4 y 31 del primer Quijote) como víctima inocente. Este estudio escudriña más detenidamente al muchacho y pone de relieve varias semejanzas entre su situación y su personalidad y las de Lazarillo de Tormes. Cuando se le reconoce a Andrés como pícaro y se analizan escenas parecidas en los libros de caballerías, se entrevé la función del episodio de Andrés en la confrontación entre Don Quijote y la realidad.

Don Quixote's first adventure after his spurious dubbing as a knight at the inn is his «rescue» of young Andrés from a beating at the hands of the boy's master. The present study will consider Andrés more closely than do either Don Quixote or most commentators on this episode and then will examine the particular role of this adventure in the novel.

Critical attention quite naturally has focused on the naivete of the trusting knight who cannot believe that the boy's master, once he has given his word, will fail to pay Andrés his back wages and treat him well henceforth. Aubrey Bell's comments may stand as an example:

Don Quixote, the modern Icarus, finds his wings perpetually melting, but he rejects all advice and persists in his reckless endeavor to set the world to rights. In this respect the episode of Andrés is fundamental... He [Don Quixote] settles the matter off-hand, airily decides that Andrés is to be set free, calculates his exact wages, and, brushing aside the boy's misgivings, leaves him at the mercy of his cynical employer and rides off well pleased to have begun his knight-errantry in so auspicious a fashion... The anger of Don Quixote at the treatment of Andrés was legitimate, but his remedy was external, rash, hollow, and insufficient.12

The reappearance of Andrés in Chapter XXXI, of course, emphasizes the error of Don Quixote and the counterproductiveness of his involvement.


It is instructive, however, to change the focus from the knight-errant to his supposed beneficiary. Andrés is a boy of about fifteen years who tends sheep for «Juan Haldudo el rico, el vecino de Quintanar.»13 The boy either has no family or has left his parents; he now lives with his master, Haldudo. The relationship between the two is antagonistic and competitive. Haldudo beats Andrés, who distrusts and fears his master. Their antagonism revolves around money and property -the rich master withholds wages from his servant because sheep continuously disappear from the fold the boy is assigned to guard. Haldudo presents his case thus:

Señor caballero, este muchacho que estoy castigando es un mi criado, que me sirve de guardar una manada de ovejas que tengo en estos contornos, el cual es tan descuidado, que cada día me falta una; y porque castigo su descuido, o bellaquería, dice que lo hago de miserable, por no pagalle la soldada que le debo, y en Dios y en mi ánima que miente

(pp. 55-56).                

Don Quixote presumes without question that the boy is completely innocent. Later he would assert that he listened to Haldudo's side of the story, and he does in fact know that the master accused his servant of thievery. Yet, he really gave scant heed to what the man said: «El amo replicó no sé qué arengas y disculpas, las cuales, aunque de mí fueron oídas, no fueron admitidas» (p. 317). Cervantes, on the other hand, leads the reader to wonder if Andrés is «descuidado» or a «bellaco». Although Andrés slyly never mentions there being any sheep missing when he knows he is in the presence of Don Quixote (both in Chapter IV and in Chapter XXXI), Cervantes does have the boy admit as much to his master before the knight's intervention: «No lo haré otra vez, señor mío; por la pasión de Dios que no lo haré otra vez, y yo prometo de tener de aquí adelante más cuidado con el hato» (p. 55). What Andrés tells Don Quixote is that the withholding of his wages -«siete reales» each month- has been going on for nine months! Moreover, his master implicitly endorses that reckoning of time and wages when he attempts only to discount from it three pairs of shoes and two medicinal bloodlettings. For sheep to disappear so regularly over nine months, Andrés must have been extremely «descuidado» indeed, or a   —21→   perpetual victim of persistent marauders, or quite possibly a «bellaco» who sold or ate his master's sheep.14

This relationship between Andrés and Juan Haldudo is somewhat reminiscent of the one between Lazarillo de Tormes and his first master, the blind man. These two also strove to outwit each other in their competition for food and money, and Lázaro's master also had recourse to violence to punish him. Each of the mistreated boys can still, in the midst of his sufferings, glimpse a bit of humor in his master's remarks. Lazarillo says: «... con tanta gracia y donaire recontaba el ciego mis hazañas, que, aunque yo estaba tan maltratado y llorando, me parecía que hacía sinjusticia en no se las reír».15 In a similar statement Andrés tells of wanting to laugh at Haldudo's ridiculing of Don Quixote: «... a cada azote que me daba, me decía un donaire y chufeta acerca de hacer burla de vuestra merced, que, a no sentir yo tanto dolor, me riera de lo que decía» (p. 318). The young Lazarillo learned to mistrust, as does young Andrés. Yet, both boys exhibit a combination of craftiness and naivete. Lazarillo displays childlike amazement at the actions of his several masters, and Andrés naively relies, though with some misgivings, on the promise of Don Quixote to right any wrong his master would do to him. But Andrés, like Lazarillo, learns his hard lessons, and when he reappears in Chapter XXXI of the novel he is wary of all and he questions Sancho's claim to be suffering along with him. The boy now asks for food and depreciates Don Quixote's vow to punish Haldudo. He even begs his would-be avenger never again to interfere on his behalf. Andrés has been schooled by adversity at the hands of a cruel master, adversity only intensified by the deed of Don Quixote:

De todo lo cual tiene vuestra merced [Don Quixote] la culpa; porque si se fuera su camino adelante y no viniera donde no le llamaban, ni se entremetiera en negocios ajenos, mi amo se contentara con darme una o dos docenas de azotes, y luego me soltara y pagara cuanto me debía

(p. 318).                


We observe here, parenthetically, how this statement by Andrés contradicts his own earlier accusation, reported by Haldudo, that his master had fabricated charges specifically in order not to pay his wages.

Andrés now has all the makings of a picaro. He is alone in the world, and his life is a struggle for food and survival. He has no use for idealistic promises, and he is resentful toward those who exacerbate his ills by their meddling solicitude. He conveniently omits his own faults from his story and emphasizes the wrongs done to him. And he departs, fittingly, toward Seville. In many of Cervantes' works Seville is the haven of picaros. There he places the master rogue Monipodio and the other picaros of Rinconete y Cortadillo as well as picaresque settings in El celoso extremeño and El rufián dichoso. Nor was this locale an arbitrary choice; rather, it reflected a common contemporary view of the city. The mention of Seville was sure to bring images of picaros to the mind of the reader of that time: «... Seville 'gran Babilonia de España' was, of course, the picaro's paradise, the center of great wealth, and 'crime city' for Spanish readers».16

This consideration of the context in which contemporaries read the novel is important not only as a key to decipher the connotation of a place reference but especially for an appreciation of the details of the great parody that Cervantes, sincerely or not, asserted Don Quixote to be. Carlos Varo says:

Se hace la parodia de las hazañas inverosímiles de los caballeros andantes. No es difícil percatarse de esto: es la interpretación racional. Don Quijote es la transposición paródica de los héroes caballerescos, es el antihéroe... El lector de la época percibía el contraste de un modo violento, y entonces tenía un doble motivo de risa: el ridículo en sí -el mismo que nosotros notamos- y el contraste con el fondo de las novelas populares, que, aunque ya un poco en decadencia, todavía enrarecían el ambiente.17

What, in fact, was the background in literature for the adventure of Andrés? Varied sources have been suggested for this episode in Don Quixote, ranging from Ariosto's Orlando furioso to Spanish novels of   —23→   chivalry including Amadís de Gaula and Clarián de Landanís.18 Pellicer notes the similarity of the episode to the rescue of a knight who is being whipped in Chapter LXXII of the Amadís, and we might add that in Chapter XIV of the same novel Galaor rescues a maiden who is being beaten by a dwarf in a forest. But, as investigators of such passages admit, the general similarities between these knightly rescues and the Andrés episode do not indicate any one unmistakable source for Cervantes.19 Rather, such interventions to save someone being flogged in a forest were a commonplace in chivalric tales, where knights interrupted the savage beatings, or even impending death, of pleading victims and then rode off to safety with them. Here, of course, Cervantes changes the pattern and has Don Quixote foolishly trust Haldudo's word and leave Andrés behind to be beaten again, with the result that «... él [Andrés] se partió llorando y su amo se quedó riendo» (p. 58). It should also be noted that the victims in the literature that inspired Don Quixote were, in spite of the injustice and cruelty of the treatment they were receiving, not themselves all untarnished paragons of virtue, The knight saved by Daraydo and Galtaziro in Amadís de Gaula had falsely promised marriage to the two women who were flogging him.20 In Orlando furioso the victim Dalinda's unwitting impersonation of Ginevra while she herself was engaged in libidinous conduct with Polinesso preceded the attempt on her life.

Thus Cervantes' subtle characterization of Andrés and his construction of the episode in which the boy figures suggest both the similarity of Andrés to Lazarillo de Tormes and the similarity, and differences, between this adventure and the deeds performed by the heroes of tales of chivalry.

Let us return now to Don Quixote and examine how the freeing of Andrés and these literary allusions function in the novel. Don   —24→   Quixote's first sally is a short, compact venture of only five chapters in which he mistakes an inn for a castle, thinks he is dubbed a knight, defends Andrés, is immobilized by a fall off his horse as he attempts to fight travelling merchants, and is carried home. There is a constant contrast between the high, idealistic world of Don Quixote's chivalric readings and the course, often picaresque, reality of the inns and roads of Spain that he encounters. All of the first sally focuses on this opposition, but the episode at the inn and the case of Andrés emphasize in a special way the gap between Don Quixote and reality.

Cervantes paints a picture of crudity and degradation at the inn. A swineherd, two prostitutes and a group of earthy muleteers are the antithesis of the knights and ladies of romances of chivalry. In charge of this inn, and inventor of the parodical farce in which Don Quixote is made a knight, is the ventero, who incarnates the opposite of knighthood. Joaquín Casalduero succinctly portrays him thus: «La biografía del ventero, descrita de una manera muy esquemática, nos presenta a un pícaro completo. La descripción nos da el envés de la vida del caballero andante, y de aquí su ironía».21 Thus Cervantes demonstrates to the reader the contrast between Don Quixote's illusion and the real world by confronting the chivalric with the picaresque. But Don Quixote is impervious to the picaresque; his illusion is sustained by his own fantasy and the farce of the innkeeper.

Nor does the new knight's encounter with picaresque elements stop here, for Cervantes has but begun a contrast that he will continue: «En la primera venta que dió albergue a Don Quijote, hizo Cervantes ensayo del tratamiento que debía imponer a su personaje. Y consistió simplemente en sostener el ensueño magnificente del hidalgo al contraste de la más cruda picaresca».22 Don Quixote's first adventure, as soon as he is on the open road, is his freeing of Andrés. Just as he had seen all the plebeian types at the inn as chivalric characters, he now deals with Juan Haldudo as if the rich farmer were a wayward but true-to-his-word knight. In the process, he comes to the aid of a possible picaro; one remembers that Cervantes leaves doubt in the reader's mind as to whether the boy is   —25→   «descuidado» or a «bellaco». At the very least, Don Quixote's rash interference impels a young boy whose life was already a fertile ground for the breeding of a picaro on toward that path. This we, but not the deluded knight, realize later when we see Andrés on the road to Seville.

Our investigation and its deliberate focus on Andrés, then, have led us back to an appreciation of the adventure in which he figures. Certainly, whatever Andrés has done, Haldudo's treatment of him is unwarranted and sadistic, even to the point of disabling him for life (see p. 318: «no seré más hombre en toda mi vida»). Certainly too, the many critics who have seen this episode as a demonstration of Don Quixote's quest for Justice are correct. But have not many readers been as rash and naive as the impulsive knight in seeing nothing more than an innocent victim in Andrés? And when one considers the effect the misguided knight has on the life of Andrés, the role in the novel of the «Aventura de Andrés» emerges. Don Quixote is first dubbed a knight by an innkeeper whom he cannot recognize as a former picaro, and immediately afterward the novice knight's first righting of wrongs in the world, ironically and pathetically, results in the abetting of a new young picaro. The reality that Don Quixote must deal with as he begins his mission of knight-errantry is not merely unchivalric; it is the direct opposite of his noble goals, it is a world of picaros in which his most exalted ideals -dubbing as a knight or aiding the afflicted- are at best illusory and often counterproductive.