Candide Chapter 19 Summary
by Voltaire

Candide book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download Candide Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 19 Summary

“What happened to them in Surinam, and how Candide met Martin”

Candide and Cacambo have a pleasant first day of traveling; on the second day, two sheep are swallowed by a swamp, and several days later two more die of exhaustion. At the end of a hundred days of travel, they only have two sheep. Candide tells Cacambo that this is how fleeting the riches of the world are; the only things that endure are virtue and happiness at seeing Cunégonde again.

Ahead of them is Surinam, which belongs to the Dutch. As they approach town, they see a Negro man lying on the ground wearing nothing but blue underpants; his left leg and his right hand are missing. He is waiting for his master, Monsieur Vanderdendur, a famous merchant—and the one who did this to the poor man. Such beatings are the custom here.

Slave workers are given one pair of underpants twice a year for clothing. If a finger gets caught in the gears of the sugar mill, the hand is cut off; if one tries to escape, off goes a leg. This is the price which is paid so Europeans can have their sugar. Candide decries Pangloss and his philosophy of Optimism; the tutor could not have known such abominations are possible or he would not believe that “everything is good when things are bad.” Candide weeps all the way to Surinam. They meet a Spanish ship’s captain and honest Candide  tells him they plan go to Buenos Aires to collect Cunégonde; the captain refuses, knowing they would all be hanged because Cunégonde is the governor’s favorite mistress. This news makes Candide weep for a long time.

Candide decides Cacambo must rescue Cunégonde. He has diamonds in his pockets worth five or six million, and he is to bribe the governor if he will not release her. Candide will take a ship to Venice and wait for Cacambo to bring Cunégonde to him. The two men embrace and weep and Candide reminds his valet to bring the old woman, as well.

Candide waits for a captain who will take him and his two remaining sheep to Venice. He hires servants and buys supplies for the voyage. Finally the merchant Vanderdendur says he will take Candide and all his belongings to Venice for ten thousand piastres. When Candide accepts the offer immediately, the merchant realizes Candide must be rich and amends his fee to twenty thousand. Candide again accepts with alacrity. They settle on thirty thousand piastres, and Candide sells two diamonds, the lesser of which is worth more than enough to pay the merchant. He pays in advance and sends his sheep ahead of him to the ship.

As Candide is being rowed out to the ship, the Dutch captain sets sail, leaving Candide behind. He returns to shore much aggrieved; he goes immediately to the judge and explains, in a loud voice, what happened. The judge fines him ten thousand piastres for being so loud but agrees to examine the matter once the captain returns and charges Candide ten thousand piastres for the consultation.

(The entire section is 807 words.)