Study Guide

James the Anabaptist in Candide

By Voltaire

James the Anabaptist

Hey—What About Sin?

James the Anabaptist represents yet another solution or viewpoint to the world’s suffering. He brings into the picture the Christian theory that there is past sin (Adam and Eve, and that whole unfortunate apple business) and there is redemption to come. Optimists forget or ignore original sin—many Christians saw Optimism as a failure because of its inability to reconcile its philosophy with this age-old story.

The Anabaptists are also represented by an unnamed character, known as the Inquisitor, who asks Pangloss the question, "You must not believe in original sin, then?" Pangloss’s response (man’s fall into sin was necessarily the best course of events) is ri-di-culous.

Aside from philosophy, James represents other Christian ideals, as well. He epitomizes notions of "love thy neighbor" when he takes care of Candide and pays for Pangloss’s recovery. He also dies to save the unscrupulous sailor, who in turn does nothing to rescue James. This seems to be Voltaire’s opinion on Christian kindness in the face of the world’s harsh realities.