Candide By François Voltaire Summary and Analysis Chapters XIII-XVI

The old woman had advised Cunégonde to get the passengers to tell her their adventures. The latter did so and found that the pessimistic argument was correct. Candide expressed regret that Pangloss was not present to voice his optimistic philosophy and that he would now offer the learned doctor a few objections.


Summary

The old woman had advised Cunégonde to get the passengers to tell her their adventures. The latter did so and found that the pessimistic argument was correct. Candide expressed regret that Pangloss was not present to voice his optimistic philosophy and that he would now offer the learned doctor a few objections.

The vessel landed at Buenos Aires, where Cunégonde, Captain Candide, and the old woman called on the proud, often overbearing governor, Don Fernando d'Ibarra y Figueroa y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza. His chief passion was women. Struck by the beauty of Cunégonde, he asked her if she were married to Candide. And Candide, alarmed by what seemed to be implied, stated that the mademoiselle was engaged to him and implored His Excellency to perform their wedding ceremony. In response, the insolent governor ordered Candide to go pass his company in review. He then announced that on the next day he would marry Cunégonde. The young lady asked for a few moments to consult the old woman before making up her mind.

The old woman's advice was practical enough: the high born Cunégonde now was destitute; she could retrieve her fortune by becoming the wife of the greatest lord in South America. Was it for Cunégonde, the old woman asked, to pride herself on an invincible fidelity when the many misfortunes she had experienced conferred rights? The old woman herself would have had no scruple about marrying the governor.

While the woman spoke, a small vessel entered the port, bringing an alcaide (municipal officer) and some alguazils (police officers). From them it was learned that a Franciscan father indeed had stolen Cunégonde's money and jewels. When he tried to sell some jewels, the jeweler recognized them as belonging to the Grand Inquisitor. Before he was hanged, the culprit confessed. The flight of Cunégonde and Candide was known to the town officials, who had then followed them to Cádiz and on to Buenos Aires. When the old woman learned that her companions were being sought by Spanish police, she consoled the young lady: she was not guilty of murder, and she now would be protected by His Lordship. The old woman sought out Candide and urged him to flee. So again the callow youth was to be parted from the incomparable Cunégonde. Where could he go?

We now learn that Candide had brought with him from Spain as his valet one Cacambo, a man of mixed blood and wide experience. In fact, he had been at various times a choirboy, sacristan, monk, merchant's agent, soldier, and lackey. He was loyal and devoted to Candide. When he learned of his master's plight, he quickly saddled the two Andalusian horses and urged Candide to run for it. Candide shed appropriate tears for Cunégonde, whom he had expected to marry immediately. But Cacambo urged him not to worry about her: women were never helpless; God looked after them. So Candide placed himself in the hands of his servant, who told him that, sent to fight the Jesuits, they would instead join the warring Fathers. The Jesuits, he was sure, would welcome a captain who could drill Bulgarian style, and Candide would prosper. The youth learned that Cacambo had been in Paraguay previously; he had been a servant in the College of the Assumption, and he was quite familiar with the Jesuits' government, which he described as most admirable; in truth he knew nothing so divine as the Fathers!

At the first barrier, the two sought an audience with the commandant. Candide and his servant were permitted to appear before him only after having been disarmed and their horses seized. Since Candide proved to be a German, not a Spaniard, the Jesuit leader, who had been at parade following Mass, deigned to meet him in a splendid, ornate arbor, where an excellent breakfast served in golden vessels had been prepared.

The Reverend Father Commander, a very proud young man, saw to it that the two were given back their arms and horses. While Cacambo left to feed the horses, Candide sat down at the table, after first having kissed the hem of the commander's robe. The Jesuit, questioning Candide in German, learned that his guest was from Westphalia and had been born in the castle of Thunder-ten-tronck. There follows another one of those surprising discoveries so typical of the tale: the commander revealed himself as the brother of the fair Cunégonde — the man who, in Candide's words, had been killed by the Bulgarians. How happy Pangloss would have been, had he not been hanged, exclaimed the naive Candide. As for the commander, he thanked God and St. Ignatius a thousand times.

Candide next informed the commander that his sister lived and was in good health, that she was with the governor of Buenos Aires, and that he (Candide) had come to make war against the Jesuits in Paraguay. Germans as they were, the two remained long at the table, the Jesuit baron especially talking at length as he recalled the day when he saw his mother and father killed and his sister raped. Assuming that he had been killed, the Bulgarians had placed his body in a cart along with those of other victims to be taken for burial. A Jesuit discovered that he still lived and rescued him, and his fortunes then turned for the better.

Candide will have remembered, the commander continued, that he was very pretty. As a result of his physical endowments, the Superior had become very fond of him. He was made a novice and later sent to Rome. Ultimately he was among the young German Catholic recruits to be sent to Paraguay. In the new country, his advancement was rapid. He became a sub-deacon and a lieutenant and finally a colonel and a priest. The Spanish troops, he assured Candide, would be soundly beaten and excommunicated.

The baron never tired of embracing Candide, whom he called his brother and savior. Perhaps, he said, they could enter Buenos Aires as conquerors and be reunited with Cunégonde. Nothing would have pleased Candide more, and he then revealed the fact that he expected to marry the baron's sister. Now the baron, who had been so effusive toward Candide, became enraged, and he denounced the hapless youth as an insolent wretch. How could Candide have had the impudence to marry his sister with seventy-two divisions on her coat-of-arms! The petrified young man endeavored to reason with the Jesuit baron, telling how he had rescued her from a Jew and the Grand Inquisitor and adding that Doctor Pangloss had always told him that men are equal. He concluded firmly that he intended to marry Cunégonde.

The baron could not restrain himself. He struck Candide on the face with the flat of his sword, and the youth, drawing his own weapon, paid back the blow with a thrust to the hilt into the Jesuit's body. Appalled that he again had been placed in a position where he was impelled to perform a violent act, Candide bewailed his lot: he, the kindest man in the world, had now killed three men, two of them priests.

Standing at the door of the arbor, Cacambo had observed all this. He came running to his master's side and told him that they must sell their lives dearly. He remained his calm self; after all, he had seen much violence before. Cacambo put the robe of the Jesuit baron on Candide, gave him the dead man's head gear, and had him mount one of the horses. As they dashed away, the clever servant cried out: "Make way, make way for the Reverend Father Colonel!"

The two rode safely beyond the barriers that had been erected for the defense of Paraguay. Cacambo had taken care to bring along provisions, and, after riding deep into the unknown country, the two dismounted. Beginning to eat some of the food, Cacambo urged his master to do likewise. But Candide exclaimed that he could not be expected to eat ham since he had just killed the son of the first baron and now knew that he would never see Cunégonde again. He was sure that remorse and despair were his lot for the rest of his days. And what, he asked, will the Journal de Trévoux say? (The reference is to the Jesuit publication that was founded in 1701.) But nevertheless he did eat.

Hearing some cries uttered by young women, the two jumped to their feet in alarm. The sound, they discovered, came from two naked girls who were pursued by monkeys that bit at them as they ran. Candide, moved by compassion, killed both animals with his double-barreled Spanish gun. God be praised, he said to Cacambo; this good deed would make up for the sin of killing an Inquisitor, a Jew, and the Jesuit baron. And perhaps this action would win them advantages in this strange country. But the girls did not rush forward to thank their rescuer; instead they wept and tenderly embraced the two dead monkeys. "I was not expecting such goodness of soul," said Candide, and then he was informed that he had killed the girls' lovers. He was incredulous, but once more Cacambo enlightened him: after all, monkeys were one-quarter men. Why should it be strange that in some countries the ladies became emotionally attached to monkeys? Then Candide recalled that Pangloss had told him of such unions, but he had believed that all he had been told belonged to the realm of fable. As Cacambo remarked, now he knew better.

The two next retired into the woods, where they ate and slept. They could not move when they awoke, for during the night the native Oreillons had bound them with ropes of bark. Fifty naked Oreillons, armed with arrows, stone clubs, and hatchets, surrounded them. Nearby other natives attended a great caldron of boiling water, while still others prepared spits. All shouted that they would be avenged by eating a Jesuit. Cacambo blamed the girls for their sad plight. Candide, looking at the caldron and spits, knew that they were about to be roasted or boiled, and he wondered what Doctor Pangloss would have said if he saw what the pure state of nature was like.

Cacambo, as we have seen, never lost his head. He consoled his master, saying that he knew a bit of the native's language and would talk with them. And so he did, most reasonably. He argued with the Oreillons that a Jesuit should be devoured, for national law taught us to kill our neighbors, and all people behave accordingly. But, he continued, the natives would not want to eat their friends. He then convinced them that they should verify the facts before deciding to treat him and Candide as enemies. And the facts were verified, whereupon Candide and his servant were treated most hospitably. At last the Oreillons conducted the two to the border of their country, shouting joyfully: "He's not a Jesuit!" Candide, wondering about this latest experience, decided that the pure state of nature must be good since his life had been spared once his captors learned that he was not a Jesuit.

Analysis

These chapters are particularly interesting because in them Voltaire described two utopian states of sorts. It has been argued that life at the castle in Westphalia was utopian for Candide prior to the difficulty that led to his expulsion. But the utopias in this section are more easily identified as such. The first is the Jesuit utopia in Paraguay, where the Fathers had established a theocratic tyranny. One might very well call it a counter-utopia because it was an ideal state only if one were a Jesuit in the country. It was Cacambo who, not without irony, first described the utopia in glowing terms: "It is an admirable thing, this government. Los Padres (the Fathers) have everything and the people nothing; it is a masterpiece of reason and justice." The splendor in which the Jesuits of Paraguay lived was well illustrated by the description of the commandant's arbor, with its colonnade in green and gold marble. And it will be recalled that Candide was served an excellent breakfast prepared in vessels of gold, whereas the native Paraguayans ate corn in wooden bowls out in the open fields under the blazing sun. Yes, for Los Padres, life was indeed utopian as long as the theocratic government survived.

The second utopia in this section is that of the Oreillons, who existed in a pure state of nature, uncontaminated by manmade Western civilization; Jesuit Paraguay was beyond the borders of their land. All this relates to the concept of the noble savage, which became increasingly popular in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The idea was that nature itself was benign and good; let man live in a state of pure nature and he in turn will be good. Pangloss had embraced this philosophy of primitivism, as we learn from Candide. The name Oreillons derives from the Spanish Orejones, which indicates "pierced ears" or "big ears." Voltaire remained ironical in his account of these utopians. Understandably, Candide began to question all that had been taught him about "natural" man when it appeared that Oreillons were going to boil or roast him, but once his life was spared because he was not a Jesuit, he was no longer doubtful. The obvious conclusion is that the primitive people are no better nor no worse than so-called civilized people. Both are capable of great cruelty.

To be sure Voltaire did not lose any opportunity for anti-religious satire. Warring churchmen especially were his target here. It was a nice touch for him to report that the Jesuit commandant had been to Mass and then had hurried to the parade ground. The intelligence that the practical, ingenious Cacambo had been successively a choirboy, sacristan, and monk, as well as merchant's agent, soldier, and lackey, has its place in carrying forward the satire. And in Chapter XIII, we learn that a Franciscan in truth had stolen Cunégonde's money and jewels and was hanged when the jewels were recognized as having belonged to another churchman, the Grand Inquisitor. Related to all this is Voltaire's rejection of the Providential theory, that of a benign deity who is constantly concerned with the lot of mankind. This is implicit in Cacambo's remark that Cunégonde would be safe: women are never helpless, for God looks after them. Recall all that had happened to Cunégonde since the Bulgarian attack on her father's castle. Finally, when Cacambo was made to say that it is natural for one to kill his enemies, Voltaire underscored his belief that so many people give only lip service to the religion they profess.

Voltaire once more found the opportunity to satirize wittily inordinate pride and vanity. Note the pretentious list of names used by the governor of Buenos Aires, who never dreamed that Cunégonde or any woman would reject his offer of marriage. He spoke to his men "with the noblest disdain, his nose in the air, his voice raised pitilessly." Add to this the Jesuit baron's reaction to Candide's announcement that he expected to marry the aristocratic Cunégonde — he, a commoner, and she, a baron's daughter with seventy-two quarterings to the family coat of arms!

Personal satire finds a place in these chapters. It will be remembered that, in the person of the original baron in Westphalia, Voltaire was poking fun at Frederick the Great. And we were told that the son, whom we now have met as the Jesuit commandant, was much like his father. Therefore, the portrait of that son in Chapter XV again includes satire of the Prussian king. This is true not only with reference to a preoccupation with military activities, especially drill and parades, but with reference to the alleged moral character of Frederick. The Jesuit baron told Candide that he had been a "pretty" youth whom the Superior of the Jesuit house found most attractive and who advanced him accordingly. And when he learned the identity of Candide, his words and actions were those one would expect a man to reserve for a woman whom he adored; he never tired of embracing Candide.

The episode involving the monkeys has its place in the realm of satire. It may well be said that Voltaire was pointing up the bestiality in mankind. According to Cacambo, monkeys are one-fourth human. Voltaire apparently had in mind the traditional view of man, who on the hierarchical scale occupied a place equidistant between that of the beast (representing the rejection of reason) and that of the angel (representing pure reason). If this be true, then the love of the young ladies for the monkeys could represent man's rejection of reason and his descent on the hierarchical scale.

Last, Voltaire's account here makes it only too clear that he found evil essentially unavoidable. The basically good, well-meaning Candide found it necessary again to kill a man, and another churchman at that. He thus was responsible for the death of three men, this innocent who had been schooled to believe that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

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