Candide By François Voltaire Summary and Analysis Chapter IXX

Heartened by the thought that they were now wealthy, Candide and Cacambo found the first day of their journey pleasant. The lovesick youth wrote Cunégonde's name on the trees. But then new difficulties arose. On the second day, two sheep, laden with treasure, were lost in a bog; two others died of fatigue a few days later. After days of travel, just two sheep were left. Candide pointed the moral: the riches of the world are perishable; only virtue and the joy of seeing Cunégonde again lasted. Cacambo agreed but added that they still had the two sheep and much wealth. And in the distance was the Dutch possession, the town of Surinam. Surely their happiness was about to begin.


Summary

Heartened by the thought that they were now wealthy, Candide and Cacambo found the first day of their journey pleasant. The lovesick youth wrote Cunégonde's name on the trees. But then new difficulties arose. On the second day, two sheep, laden with treasure, were lost in a bog; two others died of fatigue a few days later. After days of travel, just two sheep were left. Candide pointed the moral: the riches of the world are perishable; only virtue and the joy of seeing Cunégonde again lasted. Cacambo agreed but added that they still had the two sheep and much wealth. And in the distance was the Dutch possession, the town of Surinam. Surely their happiness was about to begin.

Near the town they saw a black man in rags lying on the ground. His left leg and right hand were missing. Candide addressed him in Dutch and was told that he was waiting for his master, Mynheer Vanderdendur. Candide learned that this same master had punished the man by maiming him, as he did all servants or slaves who offended him. He recalled that his mother, when she sold him into slavery, assured him that he was making his parents' fortune. So far from doing so, he continued, he had only helped to increase his Dutch master's fortune. Dogs, monkeys, and parrots had a happier lot than the slaves. The Dutch "fetishes," as he called them, converted him to Christianity, assuring him every Sunday that white and black alike were the children of Adam. "You must admit that no one could treat his relatives more horribly," the man concluded.

Candide invoked the name of Pangloss and declared that he must renounce optimism, which he now saw as "a mania for insisting that everything is all right, when everything is going wrong." The sight of the maimed man made him weep.

In Surinam, they first asked a Spanish captain if any ship in the harbor could be sent to Buenos Aires. The captain offered to give them passage for a fair price, and a meeting at an inn was arranged. At that meeting, Candide, with his free and open disposition, told the captain all that had happened to him. When the captain learned that the youth wanted to rescue Cunégonde, he declared that he would never take Candide to Buenos Aires because if he did, both would be hanged since the lady was the governor's favorite. Candide, crushed by this decision, drew Cacambo aside and instructed him to go to Buenos Aires with gold and jewels and to pay what price he must for the release of Cunégonde. Candide himself would take another ship to the free state of Venice, where he would have no fear of Bulgars, Abars, Jews, or Inquisitors. Although grieved at the thought of leaving his master, Cacambo agreed to the plan. "A fine man, that Cacambo," wrote Voltaire.

A master of a large ship who introduced himself to Candide turned out to be Mynheer Vanderdendur. He agreed to take the youth to Italy for 10,000 piasters, but when Candide readily agreed to pay that amount, the Hoilander successively raised the price to 30,000, aware as he was that Candide's sheep must be laden with immense treasures. Candide paid the fare in advance. The two sheep were put aboard, and the young man followed in a small boat to join the ship in the harbor. But the unscrupulous captain set sail without him. "Alas!" cried Candide. "That's a trick worthy of the Old World!" The loser of enough to enrich twenty monarchs, he disconsolately turned back to shore.

The distraught Candide went to see a Dutch judge to seek redress. In his excitement, he pounded loudly on the judge's door and shouted, so the judge promptly fined him 10,000 piasters before listening to him and promising to investigate the case when the captain returned. The judge then charged Candide another 10,000 piasters for expenses. For the youth, this was the last straw; he had been victimized by both the captain and the judge. The wickedness of man was now only too apparent to him. Finally, he managed to secure passage on a French ship headed for Bordeaux. And he announced that he would pay the fare and provide sustenance and money to any truly unfortunate man, one most disgusted with his lot in Surinam. Among the great numbers who applied, Candide selected twenty, assembled them in an inn, and had each relate his story, assuring them that he would choose the one most deserving pity. As he listened, he recalled what the old woman had told him on the way to Buenos Aires, and he thought much of Pangloss, whose system he now found to be suspect. He was sure that if indeed all goes well, it was only in Eldorado.

Candide selected a poor, long-suffering elderly scholar, who, among other things, had been persecuted because the preachers of Surinam believed him to be a Socinian, whose doctrine had been condemned by the Inquisition in 1559 since it rejected several orthodox tenets, notably the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, and eternal punishment.

Analysis

In this chapter, Voltaire continued his savage satirical attack upon philosophic optimism, denying that public disasters and individual tribulations were no more than part of a cosmic plan from which good ultimately emerged. Although Candide tried desperately to cling to the faith Doctor Pangloss had taught him, he found the effort to be increasingly difficult. After all, he had been robbed by the rascally captain and then victimized by the judge who represented law and order in the land. But the fact that Candide sought legal redress pointed to the conclusion that Voltaire did not seek to excuse the world's evils and that he believed man should fight to prevent it.

The plight of the black man underscores cruelty at the personal level once more. And the fact that the slave had been converted to Christianity, his master's faith, provided another example of Voltairian irony — Christianity, the religion that teaches love of one's fellow man and stresses the idea that we are all God's children. Finally, with the introduction of the long-suffering scholar, who will prove to be a most interesting character, Voltaire again struck out at intolerance and implied that there was still no place for free thought in this troubled world.

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