Candide Chapter 5 Summary
by Voltaire

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Chapter 5 Summary

“Storm, shipwreck, earthquake, and what became of Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and Jacques the Anabaptist”

Half of the passengers are weakened and dying from the agonies of a ship rolling mercilessly at sea and are not even able to worry about the danger they are in; the other half wail and pray. The ship is broken and tattered. Some try to help, but no one is in charge or knows what to do. Jacques is on deck trying to steer the ship and is knocked to the ground by a punch from a frenzied sailor. But the power of the blow jolts the sailor enough that he falls overboard and is caught and suspended by a broken piece of the mast. Jacques recovers and rescues the man but falls into the sea while doing so, and the sailor lets him drown without even a glance.

Candide sees Jacques bob to the surface once before being swallowed up by the waves forever and wants to go save him. Pangloss does not allow him to do so by explaining that Lisbon’s harbor has been created purposefully for Jacques to drown. As he explains this philosophy, the ship breaks apart and everyone dies but the two of them and the sailor Jacques rescued. The sailor blithely swims to shore while Pangloss and Candide float ashore on a plank.

After the three recover and the storm wanes, they walk to Lisbon. They still have a few coins left in their pockets so they can buy food. As they walk, the earth begins to shake, and whirls of fire and ash cover everything. Houses and buildings everywhere collapse, and thirty thousand inhabitants of Lisbon are crushed by the rubble of an earthquake. The sailor anticipates everything he might gain, financially, in this tragedy; but Pangloss wonders what the “sufficient reason for this phenomenon” might be and Candide exclaims that this is the end of the world.

The sailor risks his life digging through the rubble for money. He finds a decent amount, drinks until he is drunk, and buys the favors of a prostitute he finds among the dead and dying. All the while, Pangloss tugs at the sailor’s arm and tells him he is not using his universal reason or making wise use of his time. The sailor claims he has traveled the world and trampled on the crucifix more than once; he is the wrong person to be lectured to about universal reason.

Candide, meanwhile, is wounded in the earthquake and is now lying in the street, covered with debris. He begs Pangloss to bring him some wine and oil to perform last rites, but Pangloss just reflects on the fact that last year an earthquake happened in Lima (with the same causes and effects) so there...

(The entire section is 697 words.)