Chapter 16 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 799

“What happened to the two travelers with two girls, two monkeys, and the savages called the Orejones”

Candide and his valet have crossed the border, and no one at the camp has yet discovered the death of the Jesuit commandant. The quick-thinking Cacambo filled his saddlebags with food before they...

(The entire section contains 799 words.)

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“What happened to the two travelers with two girls, two monkeys, and the savages called the Orejones”

Candide and his valet have crossed the border, and no one at the camp has yet discovered the death of the Jesuit commandant. The quick-thinking Cacambo filled his saddlebags with food before they rode deep into an unknown country. Finally they discover a great stretch of “grassland crisscrossed with streams,” and the two travelers stop to let their horses graze. Cacambo urges his master to eat, but Candide is too distraught; he has killed Cunégonde's brother and is thus condemned never to see the woman he loves again. If he eats, he will only prolong his life and add to his miserable days.

Despite his words, Candide does eat. As the sun is setting, the two men hear faint cries which they assume are made by women. It is impossible for them to tell if the cries are from pain or joy, but the travelers are frightened and distressed at the sounds and at being in a strange place.

The cries are coming from two young women, utterly naked, running along the edge of the grasslands and followed by two monkeys who are biting them in the buttocks. Candide takes pity on the girls and uses the shooting skills he learned as a Bulgar soldier to kill the two monkeys. He tells Cacambo that he has delivered these two young women from a great danger, offsetting the sin of murdering a Jesuit and an inquisitor. Perhaps the girls are of noble birth and will secure for them great advantages while they are here.

Candide starts to say more but is stopped by the sight of the girls embracing the dead monkeys tenderly, crying bitter tears and wailing in their sorrow. Cacambo tells Candide that he has shot the women’s lovers, something Candide does not understand at all; his valet says that everything surprises Candide, but it should not be surprising to him that there are places where monkeys “might retain the good favors of a lady.” Then Candide remembers the stories Pangloss told him of fauns, satyrs, and Aegipans (half man, half goat), but he did not believe his tutor.

Cacambo is afraid these young women might cause them trouble, so the travelers ride deep into the forest for the night. When they wake up, neither man can move because they are tied up with ropes made of bark. They are surrounded by about fifty Orejones, the inhabitants of these parts and those to whom the two ladies denounced the travelers. The natives are naked and armed with arrows, clubs, and stone axes. Some are heating water in a large cauldron, some are preparing spits, and all are shouting that Candide is a Jesuit and they will be avenged by eating the Jesuit. Sadly, Cacambo says he was right to be worried about those two girls.

Candide wonders what Pangloss would think of his current predicament. While he is sure that all is still for the best, Candide thinks it is quite unfair that he not only lost Cunégonde but is now likely to be roasted on a spit by the Orejones. Cacambo tells his master not to lose heart; he knows a bit of the native language and will try to save him from being eaten. Cacambo earnestly tells the natives that it is a good thing that they are intent on eating a Jesuit today, for that is an effective way to treat the enemy. The laws of nature say it is proper to kill one’s neighbor, and it is done by people all over the world. If Cacambo’s people do not eat their enemies, it is only because they have access to enough other food. He understands that the Orejones do not have the same luxury, and it is surely better to eat the enemy than to leave him for scavengers to eat.

Cacambo is sure, however, that the natives do not want to eat their friends. He tells them he is a native of their country and the man in front of them is his master. Rather than being their enemy, Candide has actually killed a Jesuit officer. If they were to go to the nearest border of the Los Padres, they could verify his story. The Orejones do as Cacambo suggested, and soon Candide and Cacambo are released and they all celebrate.

Candide marvels at the natives’ reasoning, remarking that if he had not had the good fortune of stabbing Cunégonde's brother to death, he would certainly have been eaten today. The natural state of man is, indeed, good because the Orejones could have eaten him but instead offered him all their courtesy once they discovered he was not a Jesuit. 

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