Book Notes Chapter 19 Notes from Candide

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Candide Chapter 19

"What Happened to Them at Surinam and How Candide Made the Acquaintance of Martin"

Candide and Cacambo are happy to be on their way back to Europe where they will be rich and powerful. Candide carves the name of Cunégonde in a tree (a cliché in the romantic novels of Voltaire's time).

They travel for one hundred days, and lose one hundred sheep. Candide observes that the really good things in life are not gold and jewels but virtue and seeing Cunégonde.

They arrive in the Dutch colony of Surinam, and meet a half-naked Negro slave with one hand and one leg. The slave tells them he only gets a pair of underpants twice a year. His master, Monsieur Vanderdendur, cut off his hand when his finger got caught in the grindstone in a sugar mill. Monsieur Vanderdendur cut off his leg when he ran away. All of this so Europeans can have sugar, the slave says bitterly.

When his mother sold him to white men, she told him to thank and worship the fetishes, objects believed to have magical powers by primitive people, because they will make him happy. She says he should be honored to be a slave. He repeats what the Dutch missionaries taught him. Everyone is the child of Adam. He guesses everyone to be second cousins, but he emphasizes how everyone treats one another so viciously.

"'Dogs, monkeys, and parrots are a thousand times less miserable than we are[.]'" Chapter 19, pg. 82

The slave's story disgusts Candide. Candide cries out that things are just too bad to continue believing in Pangloss's philosophy of optimism.

'What is optimism?' said Cacambo. 'Alas!' said Candide, 'it is the mania of maintaining that everything is well when we are wretched.'" Chapter 19, pg. 83

Candide learns from a Spanish captain that Cunégonde is the mistress of the Governor of Buenos Aires. Candide is stunned. He tells Cacambo to get Cunégonde and the old woman, and to meet him in Venice.

Candide hires Monsieur Vanderdendur, the owner of the Negro slave, to sail to Venice. A testament to Candide's naiveté, he pays increasingly more money each time Monsieur Vanderdendur raises his fees. Monsieur Vanderdendur sails off with Candide's remaining two sheep laden with treasure, and he leaves Candide behind. When Candide takes his case to a crooked Dutch judge, he loses even more money. Candide becomes quite depressed.

"The malevolence of men revealed itself to his mind in all its ugliness[.]" Chapter 19, pg. 86

Candide advertises that he will provide passage to Bordeaux to any applicant who can prove he is the most miserable. Many men tell Candide their stories, and he chooses Martin, an aging academic who was abused by his family and persecuted by preachers in Surinam for his suspected heresy. Candide speculates that Pangloss would be hard pressed to support his philosophy of optimism if he had heard all the pathetic stories.

Topic Tracking: Hypocrisy 11
Topic Tracking: Optimism 10

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