| Quote #1
He had written on his threshold: "Wherever you come from, come in and be welcome." Who do you think answered that noble invitation? The militia, who made themselves at home and disemboweled him (1.11).
This Candide-like tragedy is right on par with the absurdist idea of irrational suffering in the world. Or, in easier terms, bad things can happen to good people. (For more on ≤i≥Candide≤/i≥ and Voltaire’s philosophical bent check out our Shmoop module.)
| Quote #2
I once knew a manufacturer who had a perfect wife, admired by all, and yet he deceived her. That man was literally furious to be in the wrong, to be blocked from receiving, or granting himself, a certificate of virtue. The more virtues his wife manifested, the more vexed he became. Eventually, living in the wrong became unbearable to him. What do you think he did then? He gave up deceiving her? Not at all. He killed her (2.3).
Here's a great example of Jean-Baptiste’s unique brand of logic – and we’re using the term loosely. With regard to the man in this story, we could call him irrational, or we could accept that he’s just using a different, maybe even absurd rationale.
| Quote #3
They were asleep in their little routine and suddenly, for example, the concierge dies. At once they awake, bestir themselves, get the details, commiserate. A newly dead man and the show begins at last. They need tragedy, don’t you know; it’s their little transcendence, their apéritif (2.19).
Jean-Baptiste argues that man wakes up when he experiences tragedy, but the fact of sleeping in the first place is more important (and more common) as far as philosophical theories like existentialism are concerned. We are "asleep" in the sense that we are unaware of our surroundings.