Study Guide

Candide Chapter 17

By Voltaire

Chapter 17

  • Cacambo and Candide start to feel paranoid, and quite rightly so since they are being pursued from basically every direction.
  • They decide to seek refuge in Cayenne. They travel to the point of "are we there yet?" feelings of distress.
  • One day, they see a river lined with coconut trees. They spot an empty boat, fill it with coconuts, and begin to float downstream.
  • At the end of the river they discover a lush land.
  • They find the nearest town and see children playing with gold and jewels in the road. A schoolmaster calls the children and they abandon the riches outside.
  • Astounded, Candide and Cacambo gather the riches and return them to the schoolmaster.
  • With a confused look, the schoolmaster drops the riches and walks inside.
  • Candide and Cacambo are left perplexed.
  • They go to eat at an inn where they are very kindly received. They attempt to pay for their meal with gold nuggets, but are received with hysterical laughter. The other diners explain that the food is free and that the gold nuggets are simply worthless stones from the road.
  • Astounded, Candide begins to doubt that Westphalia could have been the best of all possible worlds, since this one has money and lacks rape, disembowelment, flogging, gauntlets, cannibalism, execution, earthquakes, and drownings.