Search Menu


Chapters 20–23

page 1 of 2

Chapters 20–23

Chapters 20–23

Chapters 20–23

Chapters 20–23

Summary: Chapter 20

Candide still has a little money and a few jewels, and hopes to use what he has to recover Cunégonde. His love and remaining fortune momentarily renew his faith in Pangloss’s philosophy. Martin the scholar, on the other hand, maintains that God has abandoned the world because men kill and maim one another everywhere. En route to Bordeaux, Martin and Candide watch a battle between two ships. One ship sinks and its crew perishes. Candide finds his sheep in the water and realizes that the defeated ship belonged to Vanderdendur. Candide claims that there is some good in the world because Vanderdendur has met with just punishment, but Martin asks why Vanderdendur’s crew had to die with him.

Summary: Chapter 21

When the coast of France is in sight, Candide asks Martin if he has ever been to Paris. Martin says he has, and describes his previous encounters with the French and his disgust at what he calls their lack of manners. Candide asks Martin why the world was made, and Martin replies, “To make us mad.” Candide then asks Martin if he believes that men have always done evil things to one another. Martin replies with a question, asking Candide if hawks have always eaten pigeons. When Candide answers yes, Martin counters that if the rest of nature’s beasts do not change, then men do not either. Candide disagrees, claiming that men have free will.

Summary: Chapter 22

The ship arrives in France, and Candide buys a carriage so that he and Martin can continue to travel together. They decide to visit Paris, but Candide becomes ill upon arriving at their hotel. Candide wears a large diamond on his hand that attracts a great number of new friends, including two physicians, who force their services on him. The physicians only succeed in making Candide sicker. Candide and Martin meet an abbé of Perigord and play cards with him and his friends. The other players cheat, and Candide loses a great deal of money. The abbé takes Candide and Martin to visit the Marquise of Parolignac. While there, Candide argues with a philosopher about whether everything is for the best in this world. The philosopher states that the world is in a state of “unending warfare.” The Marquise seduces Candide and steals his jeweled rings.

By manipulating Candide, the abbé learns that Candide has not received a letter from Cunégonde. The next morning, Candide receives a letter signed “Cunégonde” with the news that she is ill in Paris and wishes him to visit her. Candide and Martin are conducted into a dark room. The maidservant explains that Candide may not view Cunégonde because light would be harmful to her. Candide gives diamonds and gold to the woman he believes to be Cunégonde. The abbé arrives with a squad of officers and orders Martin and Candide arrested as “suspicious strangers.” Candide bribes an officer with diamonds, and the officer lets them go. The officer’s brother, after being given more diamonds, puts Candide and Martin on a ship bound for England.

Summary: Chapter 23

When the ship is near shore, Martin and Candide witness the execution of an admiral. They learn that England executes admirals periodically to encourage the rest of the fleet to fight harder, and that this particular admiral was sentenced to death for failing to incite his men to get closer to the enemy during a battle with the French in Canada. Candide refuses to set foot in England and arranges for the captain of the ship to take him to Venice, where he is certain he will be reunited with Cunégonde.

—You see, said Candide to Martin, crime is punished sometimes; this scoundrel of a Dutch merchant has met the fate he deserved. —Yes, said Martin; but did the passengers aboard his ship have to perish too?

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Analysis: Chapters 20–23

Martin is a foil to Pangloss. He does not believe that everything is for the best in this world, nor does he believe in some natural “good.” He acknowledges the evil side of human nature. For Martin, the presence of evil in the world does not inspire convoluted logical justification. Candide tries to counter Martin’s arguments by citing the idea of free will. However, free will does not solve the dilemma of the presence of evil in a world created by a perfectly good, omniscient, omnipotent Christian God.

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 20–23 Quiz

Take a quiz on this section
Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 20–23 Quiz



What do Candide and Martin see en route to Bordeaux?
A battle between ships
The Aurora Borealis
Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 20–23 Quiz

Chapters 20–23 QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Chapters 20–23 Quiz

More Help

Previous Next
Adam and Eve

by sary56, August 20, 2013

"Moreover, in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve enjoyed the fruits of nature without having to work..."
I don't think that's true. Genesis 2:15 says, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Adam's purpose was to work even before the fall, which happens in Genesis 3. Also, I don't believe that Adam and Eve fell from God's grace. Yes, God said "you shall surely die" if you eat of the fruit, and they did, but it was actually God's grace that made them go out of the garden to prevent them from li... Read more


42 out of 71 people found this helpful

Life life

by Jekemi, January 05, 2014

What I got from this book is that whether Panglos is right or not. Whether Pessimism or Optimism prevailed, it doesn't do any good to philosophy over it.
Man was placed in the garden to work, not to be idle.

I believe that in the end Candide gave up on arguing - he simply realised the pointlessness of doing it and that true happiness will be by living life without thinking about it the whole time.

Thanks for your post.



3 out of 4 people found this helpful

This Book is About...

by AlexM4ck, April 30, 2014

Honestly I don't think this book has anything to do with religion, right or wrong. Any type of theorizing, philosophy, formal religion, or even societal emphasis on what is important is represented as something negative. For example, all church figures are corrupt, philosophers Pangloss and Martin no matter what their opinions are either ignorant or miserable. The happiest (and eventually model) character is the farmer, who thinks and works for himself. Voltaire was jaded by the corruption of religion and hopeless optimism of philosophy and ... Read more


40 out of 49 people found this helpful

See all 6 readers' notes   →