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Candide | Chapter 29 | Summary

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Summary

Candide and Cunégonde are reunited. She has indeed become ugly—"her eyes bloodshot, her breasts sunken, her cheeks lined, her arms red and chapped." Candide is shocked but goes to hug her "out of sheer good manners." She reminds Candide of his promise to marry her, and the Young Baron has a fit. Cunégonde sobs at her brother's feet, and Candide calls him an ass, citing all the ways he's helped both of them. The Young Baron doesn't care, telling Candide, "You may kill me all over again, but you will never marry my sister while I am alive."

Analysis

The Young Baron's apparent resurrection hasn't changed him at all. Obsessed with class and status, he is just as awful as he was before Candide stabbed him. He knows Cunégonde has long lost her virtue, but he still insists that she "shall never marry unless it be a baron of the Empire." That's never going to happen, which is why Cunégonde begs him to reconsider. Candide is her only chance at a somewhat happy life. Even if she doesn't actually love him, she will no longer have to sleep with men who treat her badly just to ensure her survival.

Candide is a far better person than anyone else in the novel. He gives freely of his money and his sympathy, but his loyalty to Cunégonde is his biggest sacrifice thus far. With her beauty gone, he realizes that he doesn't actually love her, but he made a promise and intends to see it through. Being a good person means more to him than having the perfect life with the perfect wife. He has finally learned that he is not exempt from the suffering everyone else seems to experience.

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