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Candide | Chapter 30 | Summary

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Summary

Candide doesn't want to marry Cunégonde, but he does so anyway to spite the Young Baron before sending him back to the galleys. It's the only highlight in Cunégonde's otherwise depressing life. Even Pangloss no longer believes in philosophical optimism, but he has practiced it for so long that he isn't able to give it up.

Paquette and Brother Girofleo show up at the little farm on which Candide and his companions are now living, but they are no happier than when Candide last saw them. The money he gave each of them was quickly spent, and their lives spiraled downward. After prison sentences and numerous quarrels, Brother Girofleo gives up Christianity for Islam while Paquette continues selling her body without making any real money. Martin boasts that he was right: Candide's money only made them "more wretched."

The group consults a man said to be the greatest philosopher in Turkey, but he wants nothing to do with them. "What does it matter," he asks, "if there is evil or there is good?" Later they meet an old farmer who invites them into his home for delicious food and good company. Candide assumes that the man has a "vast and magnificent estate," but is told it's only 20 acres, which the man runs with his children. "Our work keeps at bay the three great evils: boredom, vice, and necessity," the old man says.

Back on his own farm, Candide realizes the old man has a much better life than the six deposed kings he met in Venice. He and his friends divide the duties of the farm, each performing tasks suited to their strengths, and they experience something that resembles contentment. Pangloss tries to explain to Candide how his expulsion from Thunder-ten-tronckh was necessary for him to end up here, but Candide isn't interested. He just wants to work in the garden.

Analysis

Money can't buy happiness. It didn't work for Candide and Cacambo, who left El Dorado to improve their positions in the world, and it didn't work for Brother Girofleo or Paquette. The problem with money, according to Voltaire, is that it is a fleeting substitute for what brings true contentment: hard work, friendship, and a sense of purpose. This is proven by the old farmer, whose happiness comes not from wealth, but from the pleasure of doing work he enjoys with people he loves. That is far more important than social status and spending money.

Candide's newfound understanding of how to achieve happiness dampens his enthusiasm for philosophical discussions. Though Pangloss has pretty much given up on optimism, he still wants to talk about it all the time. Candide no longer needs philosophical theory to tell him he's happy, nor does he feel the need to measure his experiences against the litmus test of "the best of all possible worlds." His change in character by the end of the book underscores the novella's main lesson: a life well lived is rooted in personal experiences, not the ideals of academic philosophers.

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