What are "quarterings" in Candide?

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In Candide, quarterings refer to noble lineages of a person or family. Quarterings are displayed on a family's hereditary shield, and they show each noble line from which the family descends. Quarterings are named for the divisions on the shield, first into four quarters and then continually into sets of four (although most families in real life do not show all their “quarterings” on their shields because they would become too small to even see properly). According to Candide, a man can be knighted with only sixteen quarterings. However, this is not nearly enough for most noble families. Candide'

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In Voltaire's Candide, quarterings refer to noble lineages of a person or family. Quarterings are displayed on a family's hereditary shield, and they show each noble line from which the family descends. Quarterings are named for the divisions on the shield, first into four quarters and then continually into sets of four (although most families in real life do not show all their “quarterings” on their shields because they would become too small to even see properly).

According to Candide, a man can be knighted with only sixteen quarterings. However, this is not nearly enough for most noble families. Candide's family proudly possesses a grand total of seventy-one quarterings, but families compete with each other so much that Candide's father cannot even marry a certain woman because he only has seventy-one quarterings, while she boasts of seventy-two. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but Voltaire wants to emphasize the irrational nature of this focus on numbers to indicate nobility and the ridiculousness of the competition it creates.

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