Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 663
“How Candide was forced to part with the fair Cunégonde and the old woman”
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After hearing the old woman’s story, Cunégonde treats her with the deference due to a woman of her rank. She follows the old woman’s advice and asks every passenger traveling with them to tell them their stories. The old woman was right; everyone does have a story of woe to tell. Candide wishes Pangloss were here to tell them wonderful things about the physical and moral evil which exists on land and sea; if he were, Candide would have the courage to make some “respectful objections” to those who cannot see the good in their woes.
The ship continues as each passenger tells his tale. When they land in Buenos Aires, Cunégonde, Captain Candide, and the old woman visit the governor. His name is Don Fernando d’Ibarra y Figueroa y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza, and he has the pride befitting a man bearing so many names. He is so arrogant and haughty that people want to strike him as soon as they meet him. Don Fernando loves women passionately, and Cunégonde seems to him to be the most beautiful woman he has ever encountered. When he asks if she is the captain’s wife, Candide finds himself in a dilemma. He is too honest to lie and say that she is either his sister or his wife, though that might be more prudent.
Instead he tells the governor that Cunégonde is his fiancée and they would like him to preside over their marriage ceremony. Don Fernando “twirls his mustaches haughtily” and smiles grimly, ordering Captain Candide to go inspect his troops. Candide obeys, leaving Cunégonde alone with the governor. He expresses his passion for Cunégonde and announces that he will marry her tomorrow in a church or anywhere else she wishes. Cunégonde asks him for fifteen minutes to collect her thoughts and discuss the matter with the old woman before deciding anything.
The old woman reminds Cunégonde that though she has nobility in her blood, she does not have a cent to her name. She now has the opportunity to be the wife of South America’s greatest noblemen, a man with a splendid mustache. She asks Cunégonde if she is in any position to ignore such an opportunity and reminds her that “misfortunes bestow certain rights.” Cunégonde has been used by many men, and the old woman would not feel a bit guilty marrying the governor and ensuring Candide’s fortune and future.
As the old woman speaks with the wisdom of age and experience, a ship enters the harbor. It carries a Spanish magistrate and some of his officers. As it turns out, a Franciscan, as the old woman suspected, was the one who stole Cunégonde’s jewels and gold. When he tried to sell a few of the stones to a jeweler, the jeweler recognized them as the property of the Grand Inquisitor. Before the Franciscan was hanged, he confessed that he had stolen them and explained every circumstance. The authorities already knew about Candide’s and Cunégonde’s escape and they were followed to Cadiz and now to Buenos Aires by the ship which has just arrived.
The magistrate is about to disembark and the rumor is that he is about to arrest the murderers of the Grand Inquisitor. In an instant, the shrewd old woman determines what must be done. She tells Cunégonde that she was not the one who killed the inquisitor and the governor is not going to let anyone hurt her, so she must not run. The old woman then rushes off to find Candide and warn him to flee before he is caught and burned. He knows there is no time to lose, but he wonders how he will ever be able to leave Cunégonde and where he should go.