Study Guide

Candide Chapter 2

By Voltaire

Chapter 2

  • Candide wanders penniless, cold, and hungry to a nearby town called Waldberghoff-tarbk-dikdorff.
  • Two men ask Candide to dinner. Innocently, he accepts—but it is clear (to us at least) that the men have ulterior motives.
  • The men lead Candide in a toast to the King of the Bulgars. Then they bind Candide with irons and conscript him into the King’s army.
  • In the army, Candide is frequently beaten and mistreated.
  • Candide is confused about why he’s there. Not in the philosophical crisis sense of "why are we here?" but rather "why am I getting beaten every day for no good reason?"
  • One morning, not realizing he’s breaking a rule, Candide goes on a walk by himself. He is quickly captured and asked to choose between running the gauntlet thirty-six times (or, as they said back then, "six and thirty times") or being beheaded. Hmmm.
  • Candide says, "Neither!" But the men say that’s not one of the options.
  • So, in lieu of flipping a coin, Candide decides to give this gauntlet business a shot.
  • About two gauntlets later, Candide realizes that "six and thirty" is a lot.
  • Right as he is about to be beheaded, the Bulgar King appears and instructs the executioners to spare Candide since it is obvious that he is a philosopher and completely clueless.