Chapter 24 Summary

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“About Paquette and Brother Giroflee”

Candide arrives in Venice and begins searching for Cacambo. Every day he sends messengers to the ships, but there is no word of his valet or of Cunégonde. He does not understand how he could have been gone so long, through so many misadventures followed by a month-long stay in Venice, and still his beloved has not arrived. Candide assumes she is dead, and he wishes he could die, as well. Candide says he should have stayed in El Dorado and tells Martin he was right: everything is “illusion and disaster.”

Eventually Candide sinks into a deep melancholy, and nothing can draw him out of it. Martin scolds him for being naïve enough to assume his valet actually went to rescue Cunégonde and  bring her to Venice. He thinks Cacambo will keep her for himself if he does find her, and further, Candide is better off just to forget about them both. This only makes Candide more inconsolable; Martin continues to make his case that life is nothing but misery.

Candide notices a monk walking arm-in-arm with a young woman in St. Mark’s Square. The Theatine monk is cheerful and robust, and the woman looks at him adoringly as they walk. Candide points the couple out to Martin as an example of people who are happy, something he has rarely seen outside of El Dorado. Martin is willing to bet they are not happy; Candide suggests they invite the couple to dinner. He immediately approaches them and invites them to a fine dinner at his inn.

The monk accepts the invitation; the young lady blushes and follows them. She looks at Candide with surprise and confusion. Brother Giroflée sits in the dining room to have a drink before dinner. As soon as the other three enter Candide’s room, the woman asks if Candide really does not recognize Paquette. He had not looked closely at the woman before because he has only been thinking of Cunégonde; when Candide examines her now, he recognizes her as the baroness’s maidservant who gave Pangloss the horrific disease.

She has heard all about the troubles which have befallen the Thunder-ten-Tronckh household and she assures Candide that her life has been just as miserable as theirs. When he knew her, she was an innocent maid; however, a Franciscan monk serving as her confessor easily seduced her and the consequences were terrible. She was forced out of the castle shortly after Candide was banished, and she would have starved if a famous doctor had not taken her as his mistress. His wife was bitterly jealous and beat Paquette every day. Being the lover of a horribly ugly man whom she did not love and then being beaten mercilessly by his wife made her most unhappy. The doctor’s wife eventually brought charges against her husband, and Paquette was put in jail.

Paquette was saved by the judge on the condition that she would become his mistress; soon she was replaced by another woman and sent out on the streets without recompense. This was the pattern of her life, and she eventually came to Venice to practice her profession. Candide has no idea what it is like to have to pretend to love so many men, to be snubbed and insulted by nearly everyone, to be extorted by law officers, and to have no prospects but a terrible, poverty-stricken old age. In short, she is one of the most unfortunate people in the world. Martin points out that he has already won half their wager; Paquette only appears happy to please her patrons.

At dinner,...

(This entire section contains 811 words.)

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Candide tells the monk he must be living the most pleasant of lives and seems perfectly happy. Brother Giroflée says he wishes all the other Theatine monks were all dead. His father forced him to become a monk at the age of fifteen so his older brother could have a larger inheritance, and he has been miserable ever since. The monastery is rife with anger, jealousy, and discord. He occasionally preaches a bad sermon for money; the prior steals half, and what is left he spends on women. All the other monks feel the same.

Candide pays Martin for losing the wager and gives the monk a thousand piastres, sure that this will make the monk happy. Martin believes it might make him even more miserable. Candide is hopeful, since he unexpectedly found several lost things (his red sheep and Paquette), that he will also find Cunégonde. Martin hopes that will make his friend happy—but he doubts it. Candide has heard of a man, Senator Pococurante, who lives in a beautiful palazzo and receives foreign visitors graciously. “People claim he is a man who has never met with any sorrows.” Thus, they go to meet him.


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