Chapter 3 Summary

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“How Candide escaped from among the Bulgars, and what became of him”

The two armies are stunning in every way, and the noise of the trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, and cannons create a magnificent harmony. First, the cannons kill six thousand men on each side; then musket shots kill nine or ten thousand “rogues infecting its surface.”  The bayonets dispose of several thousand more, for a total of nearly thirty thousand men in this best of all possible worlds. A trembling Candide does what any philosopher would do—he hides as best as he can as the “heroic butchery” goes on around him.

At the end of the day, while the two kings have a hymn sung over the dead, Candide decides to leave so he can think more about causes and effects. After climbing over heaps of dead bodies, he arrives at a neighboring village which is now in ashes; the Bulgars burned it to the ground in accordance with international law. The old men are covered with wounds and watching their butchered wives die, “clasping their infants to their bleeding breasts.” Girls who were disemboweled after being raped by the soldiers are now dying, and those covered in burns are begging to be relieved of their misery. Brains, arms, and legs are scattered on the ground, as well. Candide leaves as quickly as he can and goes to another village.

This village belonged to the Bulgars, and it is in much the same condition as the last one. Working his way through dead or dying bodies and rubble, Candide gathers a few provisions in his bag and finally flees the theater of war. In all of his travels, he never forgets Cunégonde and her beautiful eyes. His provisions are gone by the time he reaches Holland; however, he has heard that everyone in Holland is rich and Christian, so he has no doubt that he will be treated as well as he was at the baron’s castle.

Candide asks for help from several serious-looking people who warn him that if he continues begging he will be put in prison where he will be taught how to make a living. The next man he approaches has just given an hour-long speech on the topic of charity. The black-cloaked speaker looks at Candide warily and asks if he has come here for the “Good Cause.” Of course Candide replies what he has learned: that there is no effect without a cause and all is designed for the best. It is all part of an arranged plan for his good that he was forced to leave Cunégonde, run the gauntlet, and beg for food until he can earn his own living. All of this is as it should have been.

The speaker asks if Candide believes that the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Candide honestly says that he has never heard that he is; however, whether he is or is not, Candide still needs something to eat. The speaker calls Candide a “wretch” who does not deserve any bread and tells Candide never to come near him again. Above them, the speaker’s wife puts her head out of the window and, hearing there a man who doubts that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, dumps a chamber pot full of waste on Candide’s head.

Another man named Jacques, an Anabaptist who has not been baptized, sees this humiliating treatment and takes Candide to his house. Jacques washes him, gives him food and drink, presents him with some coins, and offers to teach Candide how to work in his factory, which manufactures Persian cloth in Holland. Candide nearly worships the man, saying he knows that everything is for the best in this world and is “infinitely more moved” by Jacques’ generosity than by the severity of the black-cloaked man and his wife in the street.

The next day, Candide is out walking when he meets a beggar covered in pustules. His eyes are lifeless, his nose is rotting off his face, his mouth is twisted, his teeth are black, and his voice is rasping. He coughs violently, and each time he does he spits out a tooth.

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