Don Quixote Conspiracy Theory

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Sorry this is a bit late, but I thought it was better late than never (an unofficial Arts One motto really). I have a lot of notes I never used that makes for a fun theory.

So within the book there are many doubles, in a way that might confuse the readers as to what it could mean: there are two Stillmans (Sr. & Jr.), two Peters (Quinn and Stillman), two Daniels, two red notebooks, two William Wilsons, two Paul Austers, two HDs (Humpty Dumpty & Henry Dark) and two DQs (Daniel Quinn and Don Quixote). Out of these, I believe the most interesting double is the DQ, because judging by the conversation Quinn had with Auster the writer, there may be something to do with the identity of the narrator.

I briefly touched on this in my essay, but basically the argument Auster the writer brings to the table about the narration of Don Quixote could be a parallel to what may be going on in the novel City of Glass itself (just popped up in my mind but City of Glass the title could also be a reference to its mirroring effect). Simply put, both Cervantes and Auster (the real author) makes it clear that they are not the actual authors, but rather like an editor to the real narrator, in Don Quixote’s case Cid Hamete Benegeli and in CoG the unnamed narrator. While they are supposedly real events, both narrators are absent from the actual events. Here Paul Auster the writer brings up the theory: the narrator “is actually a combination of four different people” (152). He states that three of them are Don Quixote’s friends–Sancho Panza, the barber, and the priest–who stage multiple different ploys to “lure him back home” and “hold a mirror up to [his] madness” (153). The three involved in the case Quinn gets are the three Stillmans, who I theorize are the three in disguise. Virginia is the “woman in distress” and the barber (like Peter’s old nurse, Miss Barber(44)). Peter Stillman Jr. is the Knight of the White Moon and of the Mirrors (in Don Quixote they are both the same person as well), as his pale whiteness is highlighted from his first appearance and mirrors both his father in name and Quinn’s son Peter in his need for protection. Professor Stillman, then, must be Sancho Panza, not only in his initials but in his connection to language as Auster argues.

However, the reason why I wrote all of this in the first place is the last twist mentioned at the last paragraph of page 153. Auster believes that Don Quixote was in fact not actually mad, but only that he pretended to be to experiment whether it was possible to “persuade others to agree with what he said, even though they did not believe him” (154) quite like how us readers go along with his train of thoughts knowing they are far-fetched and likely unreal. “Would it be possible… to say… that puppets were real people?” (154) Apparently, yes. It is Daniel Quinn, like Don Quixote, who selects his players, first choosing the Stillman case to play out his detective story and choosing the professor out of the two doppelgangers to follow and make sense of. In Auster’s theory, it is Don Quixote who makes the events and writes the story. In CoG it really is Daniel Quinn who makes out the clues and writes in his notebook. Quinn, like Quixote, is the hidden narrator Cid Hamete who holds the “only true version of [his] story” (151). But who could be Cervantes, the one who picks up the story to show to all?

It is, then, my theory that the narrator is the one character solely written to be a reflection of Cervantes: the retired policeman, Michael Saavedra, who starts this chain of events by referring Quinn’s number to the Stillmans. That in itself is an interesting fact to think of, as Auster also imagines “Cervantes hiring Don Quixote to decipher the story of Don Quixote himself” (154) but most of all it is the name (Michael Saavedra=Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) that convinces me.

In a way, it does feel a bit too simple and direct for Paul Auster (the actual author) to have written in this labyrinth of a novel. It certainly doesn’t connect to every bit of information given, but then again, isn’t the feeling of a clean, cathartic matching of puzzles the potentials of all the pieces a part of the essence of mystery novels?

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