Candide is a young man whose many experiences and life lessons are presented in the story named after him. At the beginning of the story, Candide is a servant of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. He loves the Baron's daughter, Cunégonde, but shouldn't act on this feeling due to his position. Candide also is a follower of Pangloss, a philosopher who advocates a belief that their current life situation is "the best of all possible worlds."
Candide is caught being romantically involved with Cunégonde and is sent away. This sets the stage for his encounters with the larger world and the people in it. Throughout the story, he reconnects with Cunégonde, with Pangloss, and with other characters he meets along the way. Candide endures physical, mental and emotional hardships of every imaginable sort and witnesses others doing the same. He also experiences the help and kindness of people at times when he most desparately needs it, only to see them suffer after assisting him.
Traveling throughout the world, meeting and loosing acquaintances, finding and loosing everything, Candide gradually comes to deny the optimistic view Pangloss taught him, even as Pangloss continues to feel so in spite of the immense hardships he has endured.
At the end of the story, Candide purchases a small farm where he, Pangloss, Cunégonde, and some of the others Candide encounters through his travels settle. While they are no longer faced with the physical hardships of their previous lives, they find the farm boring until a Turkish farmer explains that his family's farm "keeps us from those three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty." Pangloss immediately seizes this attitude as validating his continuing philosophy that they are living in the "best of all possible worlds." Candide may not quite agree with that thought, but tells the others that they "must cultivate our garden."