Study Guide

Candide Chapter 18

By Voltaire

Chapter 18

  • Cacambo and Candide are directed to the oldest man in the kingdom to ask questions.
  • The Old Man explains that the land, called El Dorado, was formerly the land of the Incas and had been shielded from European conquest by its fortunate positioning between massive mountains.
  • The Old Man explains the systems of government, religion, and culture to the visitors. They learn that the country has no prisons and no courts, and the residents practice one religion. This is good, as it cuts down on crusades, bigotry, and religious persecution.
  • The men are taken to the king, who kindly receives them.
  • Although El Dorado profoundly impresses the men, they ask the king permission to leave. Cacambo feels restless and Candide feels eager to be with CunĂ©gonde. Both men also desire to become rich, impressive men in Europe.
  • The king does not understand why they would want to go, or why they are interested in taking the mud and rocks of El Dorado (gold and gems) with them. However, he commissions scientists to build a machine to help transport them to the peak of the mountains surrounding El Dorado.
  • The El Doradans send the men on their way with 102 jewel-carrying sheep. Also, the sheep are red.