Category Archives: Rocinante and Dapple

Dapple (Sancho Panza’s Donkey)

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Dapple’s Physical and Mental Qualities– In general, Dapple is a highly strung, jittery donkey that is frightened easily.

Dapple’s InjuriesThe first instance of Dapple’s injuries comes when he is pelted by a hailstorm of rocks thrown by a group of recently freed convicts.  So intense is the unprovoked stoning, that Dapple hears concussion aftershocks in his head throughout the day.  Again, when Sancho Panza and Dapple fall in a hole together, his Donkey is so bruised and battered by the gravity drop that he moans and groans in pained and piteous tones. 

Dapple’s Gait When Sancho Panza and Don Quixote ride a wooden steed that the Duke and the Duchess of Aragon pretend can fly, Sancho Panza claims that though his donkey cannot sprout wings and soar as Clavileno the Swift can, for a smooth and easy ride, his dun is unparalleled, on land, as a first rate ambler. 

Sancho Panza’s Relationship with DappleSancho Panza often talks to dapple when he is traveling.  In fact, Sancho Panza values Dapple’s company so much that when his donkey is stolen by a picaroon named Gines de Pasamonte, Sancho Panza is grieved to the depths of
his soul, sometimes waking Don Quixote with his doleful laments of sorrow.  In fact he waxes poetic, in his simple rustic way, by calling Dapple the child of his bowels, a treasure to his children, a delight to his wife, the ease of his burdens
a source of well-needed income since his Donkey earns him twenty-six maravedis a day, a sum that covers half his daily expenses.  During his travels Sancho Panza even caresses Dapple as is if his mule is a human being.  He hugs his Dun, gives it kisses on its forehead and even feels pangs of conscience when he leaves his donkey alone.  Even though Sancho Panza is offered a faster, swifter, horse, twice, Sancho Panza insists that he will not trade Dapple for sir Lancelot’s trusty steed itself.  Since Dapple is the light of Sancho Panza’s life, he beseeches the Duchess to make sure his donkey is adequately fed and stabled at the Duke’s castle.  Indeed, when Sancho Panza first reaches the Duke and Duchess’s country seat, he feels such pangs of conscience at leaving his donkey all by itself that he asks a venerable household duenna to kindly take his ass to the stables herself, since it is a rather jittery animal, and will not feel happy on its own.  So great is Sancho Panza’s fondness for his donkey that he asks Dona Rodriguez to stable Dapple, since, he thinks that there isn’t any kindlier person to entrust his valued ass to than Duchess’s Doyenne.  Later, when Sancho Panza goes hunting with the Duke, the Duchess, and Don Quixote, he does not dismount Dapple to take position to ambush a boar by a game trail, since he does not want his precious donkey to be gored.  In reciprocity, when Sancho Panza dangles head down from an evergreen oak during this scene, his dun sticks beside him, and refuses to abandon him in his plight. In fact, people are so used to seeing Sancho Panza and Dapple riding together as one that they are dubbed the inseperables.  At times Sancho Panza even rides his ass as if he is a conquering patriarch.  For example, when he travels to a hypothetical town called Barataria, he rides atop dapple in accoutrements of flaming silk.

Dapple and Sancho Panza’s FamilyDapple is so beloved by Sancho Panza’s wife, daughter, and son, that he is treated as if he is a member of their nuclear family.  For example, after Sancho Panza returns home from his second sally the first thing that Teresa Panza asks her husband is if the donkey is well, or not.  Moreover, during one of Sancho Panza’s many speeches about dapple, he describes his donkey as his children’s treasure and his wife’s delight since he was born in their very house.  

Dapple Carries Don QuixoteAfter Don Quixote is beaten to a bloody pulp by a group of muleteers he slings Don Quixote across Dapples back until he is well enough to walk on his own power.  

Rocinante (Don Quixote’s Horse)


Appearance– Rocinante is Don Quixote’s thin and worn, overworked and underfed, nag, with corns that contort its legs, and more wrong with it than any hack you can imagine.  Decimated by consumption, Rocinante is described “as long as a wet week and as lean as a lath,” with a jutting spine, a rickety skeleton, and atrophied muscles.  In fact, Rocinante is so rough-and-ragged that an escaped picaroon named Gines de Pasamonte decides to forego stealing this creature because he thinks it would be impossible to sell, or pawn, or barter, such an emaciated hack. 

Slow Motion/Fast Motion– Since Rocinante is a sedate and phlegmatic horse, rarely does he gallop at a brisk pace, except when he has to.  For example, when Don Quixote departs Don Diego’s village he has to ask a group of students and farmers to slow down and wait for him because their she-asses move faster than his horse.  Even though Rocinante moves at a plodding, feeble, poky pace, sometimes, when afraid, he bolts across the fields, at great speed.  For instance, when he is startled by a group of playacting clowns who scare him by beating the ground with their inflated cow stomachs he races across the sierra to get away from their strange sounds.  Again, when Rocinante sees a lion’s cage open he bolts across the plains to avoid being eaten by this large cat. In conclusion, when it matters, Rocinante’s movements are so nimble, so proud, and so swift, that truly they are a sight to behold. 

Wandering Rocinante– Typically, Rocinante travels at random with no set path, going this way and that way with no rhyme or reason. For
example, when Rocinante detects his home village nearby he trots with zest towards his old haunts.  At other times, when left free to roam, he searches for green grass to eat, or water to drink, or mares to court, or a shady place to rest.  Since he plods from one spot to another to the next in a haphazard manner he takes Don Quixote
on a series of wacky adventures throughout south central Spain.  Most of the time, Don Quixote’s chosen path is none other than the way Rocinante desires to go.    

Stubbornness– Sometimes Rocinante disobeys Don Quixote’s will altogether.  For example, when Don Quixote tries to dodge a torrent of large rocks thrown by galley slaves, Rocinante does not budge one iota despite being spurred vigorously by his rider.

Klutziness– At the end of his first sally, when Don Quixote charges a group of silk merchants from Toledo, Rocinante trips and falls and sends his master rolling over the ground for twenty yards.  

Naming– To find a fitting title for his nag, Don Quixote spends four days and four nights telling himself that “the horse of such a famous knight errant, and such a fine horse in its own right, should have a name of great eminence that expresses both what his horse would have been before becoming a Knight’s horse and what it is now.”  Since Don Quixote feels that his horse should have a title that reflects a famous and much trumpeted reputation befitting the order of Knight errantryafter a long succession of names that he invents, eliminates, and strikes-out, adds, deletes and remakes, he finally decides to call his old nag, Rocinante, or, Hackafore:  a name which, in Don Quixote’s opinion, is lofty and sonorous and best expresses what the creature had been when it was a humble hack, and what it is nowthe first and foremost of all the hacks in the world.

Courtship– Since Rocinante is a male horse who feels “he must give to nature what nature naturally needs” he courts a variety of pony-mares that he encounters.  For instance, when he spots a group of phillies on a green grass meadow, without requesting Don Quixote’s permission, Rocinante breaks into a lively trot and goes to inform their ladyships of his needs.  But since they are more interested in grazing then in requiting his advances, the pony mares welcome him with their hooves and bite his flanks with their teeth so that his girths snap-off and he is left saddleless and naked.  

Later on in the novel, when Don Quixote sits atop Rocinante with one hand tied to a rope fastened to the bolt of an overhead hay-loft door, Rocinante, being made of flesh-and-blood, caresses a traveling mare who sniffs him, all the while, moving out from under Don Quixote, leaving him dangling in the air in great pain. 

Beatings– Throughout the novel, Rocinante takes a number of beatings.  For instance, when a group of muleteers from Yanguasia see him trying to mount their pony mares they run over to Rocinante, brandish their walking staffs, and give him such a good hiding that they leave him sprawling on the grass.  In another instance, when Don
Quixote is attacked by a chain gang of recently freed convicts, Rocinante is pelted by a hailstorm of rocks with enough force to knock him to the ground.  After this drubbing, Rocinante lays unconscious by Don Quixote’s side, sore-wounded, in a wretched state indeed.