Study Guide

Candide Chapter 11

By Voltaire

Chapter 11

  • The Old Woman recounts her life story to CunĂ©gonde and Candide:
  • The Old Woman is the child of Pope Urban X and the Princess of Palestrina. Voltaire, in a footnote, applauds his discretion in inventing this pope rather than attributing an illegitimate child to a real one.
  • As a young woman, she is super hot.
  • She has a brief marriage, but her (also super hot) husband dies.
  • The woman and her mother set sail for a vacation estate, but on the way, "Moorish pirates" capture their boat. She, her mother, and all of their servants are strip-searched and raped.
  • When the ship arrives in Morocco, they find the country embroiled in conflict.
  • Countless men fight over her and her mother. Ultimately, everyone is killed. Except her.
  • She passes out and wakes up when she feels someone "moving up and down her body." While all her encounters to date have been with black men, she makes a point of telling us that this man is "fair-faced."
  • His actions over her body seem like rape until she hears the man, who speaks her native language of Italian, say, "O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni!"
  • This means, "Oh, what a misfortune to be without testicles."