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Candide | Study Guide


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Chapter 16

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 16 of Voltaire's novella Candide.

Candide | Chapter 16 | Summary



Candide and Cacambo are "deep into unknown country" when they hear the cries of two naked women who are being chased by apes. Candide shoots the apes and is astonished to see the women "throw their arms lovingly around the two apes and collapse in tears over their corpses." Cacambo explains that the apes were the girls' lovers, which Candide can't fathom.

Cacambo and Candide wake up the next morning to discover they are unable to move, tied by ropes made from bark. The two women have reported Candide to the local Oreillon tribe, and its members are now intent on eating him. Cacambo, who is "familiar with the gibberish these people speak," explains that Candide isn't a Jesuit although he is dressed like one. A scout verifies that a Jesuit officer (the Young Baron) has been killed, and Candide is suddenly a hero. Candide decides "the state of nature is a good thing, since these people, instead of eating me, showed me a thousand civilities just as soon as they knew I was not a Jesuit."


Despite all that he has seen and experienced, Candide still finds himself reverting to Pangloss's teachings. He even says, "All is for the best, no doubt," just before he is to be roasted on a spit for the Oreillons' dinner. He speaks the same words after he is pardoned, reasoning that if he hadn't killed the Young Baron, he would have been eaten alive. That doesn't make any sense at all. If he hadn't killed the Young Baron, he would never have gotten to the Oreillons' territory, much less made it onto their menu. Pangloss's logic, or at least Candide's understanding of it, is flawed at best.

Voltaire also attacks Rousseau's theory of the state of nature in this chapter. Rousseau thought primitive cultures superior because they lacked the evils found in modern societies. Voltaire's depiction of the Oreillons as cannibals refutes this idea.

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