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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 23 - Candide and Martin reach the coast of England
Martin feels that the English are crazy to fight for some worthless snowy land in Canada. Admiral Byng is executed for being too far from his enemy in a battle. Candide points out that the French admiral must have been equally far from Byngs. He learns that in England an admiral is occasionally killed so as to encourage others. Candide is shocked and wishes to go to Venice. He hopes to meet Cunégonde there.
In this chapter, Voltaire has ridiculed war. He condemns it as a waste of time, energy, and human life. He feels that war is harmful. This particular war is totally pointless. He satirizes the coldness and the lack of concern for human life when they occasionally kill an admiral to encourage others. This seems to be done in a very casual manner. It is ridiculous and cruel. The readers are as shocked as Candide and Voltaire at the insensitivity of the English, and the uselessness of such a war.
CHAPTER 24 - Paquette and Friar Giroflee
Candide and Martin reach Venice. They are unable to find Cacambo even after much searching. Martin thinks Cacambo will not return as he had plenty of money with him. He advises Candide to forget Cacambo and Cunégonde.
They see a young monk and his girl friend. The girl reveals herself to be Paquette. She was seduced by a Franciscan monk. She was thrown out of the Baron’s castle. A doctor kept her for which she was grateful to him. His wife was extremely jealous. He poisoned her on the pretext of giving her medicine for cold. He fled and die (Paquette) was put in prison. The judge made her his mistress. She became a prostitute. She has been leading a miserable life.
Paquette’s friend Giroflee too curses his fate and tells his sorrowful story. His monastery is full of hatred, jealousy, and discord. He was forced to join it at the age of fifteen so that his cursed elder brother may inherit more money. Giroflee is miserable in the monastery and he even feels like smashing his head against the walls. He is tempted to become a Moslem.
From his own experience in life, Martin doubts whether Cunégonde will make Candide happy. He feels that the Doge of Venice is not happier than the gondoliers of Venice are. He wishes to meet the senator Pococurante who has never known sorrow. Candide immediately sends a request to Lord Pococurante for permission to meet him the next day.
Paquette and Giroflee tell Candide and Cacambo about their miserable lives. After hearing their story, Candide’s faith in Pangloss’s optimism is further shaken.
A Franciscan monk seduces Paquette. This is a slur on the morality of religious people who are expected to have renounced the world. The Franciscan monks and nuns have to take the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Paquette is grateful to the doctor who kept her. The reader is shocked to know that he killed his wife on the pretext of giving her medicine for cold. He then fled whereas Paquette was arrested for no fault of hers. This shows the inefficiency of the legal process. Voltaire’s satire grows bitterer when the judge is introduced as the person who keeps Paquettes as his mistress is. He is a representative of law and yet he takes undue advantage of a woman who has been unjustly arrested. Paquette becomes a prostitute, as she is helpless. She is not living like a human being having her own rights. Voltaire has satirized the medical as well as legal profession by depicting the immorality of the doctor and the judge.
Giroflee is a Theatin monk. He is forced to join the monastery because he is miserable outside. He, however, realizes that the life in the monastery is not better. There is envy, hatred, and discord there too. He has not joined the monastery for the purpose of service to society, God, or religion, as one would presume a monk to do. This is again an attack on monks and monasteries. Giroflee is miserable in the monastery. His parents wished to keep all their wealth in one family but their elder son was very unfair to Giroflee. Giroflee was forced to join the forces at the tender age of fifteen so that his brother could inherit all the money. Here, the parents make the mistake of blindly trusting their elder son. Secondly, the elder son proves most selfish, unfair and a cheat. Thus, there is a satire on family too.
Martin feels that the rich and the poor are equally unhappy. The Doge of Venice is the ruler of Venice. The gondoliers are a sort of boatmen. They are humble people with mediocre earnings. This comparison is made to emphasize that almost everybody is unhappy.
According to Martin, Pococurante is a happy man. The reader comes to know in the next chapter that even he is bored. He is not satisfied with all the good things he has. His Italian name, Pococurante means ‘cares little.’ In fact, he cares little. He does not enjoy even his beautiful garden.