Chapter 8 Summary

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“Cunégonde's story”

Cunégonde was asleep in her bed “when it pleased Heaven” to send the Bulgars to the castle of Thunder-Ten-Tronckh. The soldiers chopped the baron and baroness into pieces. A six-foot-tall Bulgar noticed that Cunégonde had lost consciousness at the sight of her parents’ murders and began to rape her. She suddenly regained consciousness and began to scream, bite, scratch, and struggle. In fact, she wished she could tear out the giant Bulgar’s eyes; she was unaware that everything that was happening in this castle was the “customary way of doing things.” The soldier stabbed her in the left side, and she still bears the mark. The naïve Candide says he hopes he will get to see her scar, and Cunégonde assures him he will before continuing her story.

A Bulgar captain came into her room and saw her covered with blood, but the soldier took no notice of him. Furious at this lack of respect, the captain immediately killed the soldier as he lay on top of Cunégonde. The captain had her wounds seen to and then took her to his quarters as a prisoner of war, where she laundered his shirts and cooked for him. The captain thought she was pretty, and Cunégonde admits she thought he was quite a handsome man with lovely white skin. Unfortunately, the captain was lacking in intellect and it was obvious to her that he had not been trained in the philosophy of Pangloss. After three months, he ran out of money and grew tired of Cunégonde, so he sold her to a Jew named Don Issacar.

Issacar was a trader in Holland and Portugal, and he loved women passionately. Though he desired Cunégonde, she refused to let him triumph over her. She resisted him better than the Bulgar soldier, for once an honorable woman has been raped, her honor grows stronger. When Issacar brought her to this house, Cunégonde realized that there was, indeed, a place more magnificent than the castle in which she was raised.

One day, the Grand Inquisitor noticed her at mass and sent for her. When Cunégonde arrived at his palace and told him of her heritage, he told her that belonging to an Israelite was far beneath her and sent an emissary to negotiate an arrangement whereby Issacar would cede Cunégonde to him. Issacar was a banker in the royal court and a man of great influence, and he refused the offer. After being threatened by His Eminence with an auto-de-fé, Issacar conceded and a new arrangement was made.

Issacar gave half the house and half of Cunégonde’s time to the Grand Inquisitor. Issacar now gets her to himself on Mondays, Wednesdays, and the Sabbath; the other man gets the other four days. This is the arrangement by which all three of them have lived for the past six months, though it has not all run smoothly. There is disagreement between the men on who Cunégonde belongs to during the night between Saturday and Sunday. So far, she has been able to withstand their advances, and Cunégonde is convinced that is why they both still love her.

When the earthquake happened, the inquisitor decided to use the opportunity to intimidate Issacar and hold an auto-de-fé, inviting Cunégonde to attend with him. She had a good seat and the ladies were served refreshments between mass and the executions, but she hated to see the first three men burned. Cunégonde was surprised and horrified to see Pangloss hanged, and she fainted. Just as she was recovering, she saw Candide standing naked and then being flogged. Seeing his exquisite skin, Cunégonde was reminded of her...

(This entire section contains 819 words.)

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feelings for him and wanted to shout in protest but knew she would not be heard.

After Candide's “buttocks had been well flogged,” Cunégonde wondered how Pangloss and Candide ended up here in Portugal, killed and punished by the man with whom she is sometimes living. She believed Pangloss had cruelly deceived her when he taught her that everything is for the best in this world. Cunégonde grew exceedingly distraught and her mind filled with all the horrible things which had happened to her, starting with her parents’ murders and ending with the memory of the kiss she shared with Candide behind the screen. Cunégonde thanked God for all of the ordeals which brought her back to Candide and asked the old woman to take care of him and bring him to her.

Cunégonde enjoyed recounting the journeys that brought them together. Afterward, they enjoyed a wonderful meal and then settled comfortably on the luxurious sofa—which is where Issacar finds them when he comes to claim his rights and express his love for Cunégonde. It is the Sabbath.


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