Chapter 9 – What Became of Cunegonde, Candide, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew

1 2 This Issachar was the most choleric Hebrew that had ever been seen in Israel since the Captivity in Babylon.
2 2 “What!” said he, “thou bitch of a Galilean, was not the Inquisitor enough for thee? Must this rascal also share with me?”
3 1 In saying this he drew a long poniard which he always carried about him; and not imagining that his adversary had any arms he threw himself upon Candide: but our honest Westphalian had received a handsome sword from the old woman along with the suit of clothes. He drew his rapier, despite his gentleness, and laid the Israelite stone dead upon the cushions at Cunegonde’s feet.
4 1

“Holy Virgin!” cried she, “what will become of us? A man killed in my apartment! If the officers of justice come, we are lost!”

“Had not Pangloss been hanged,” said Candide, “he would give us good counsel in this emergency, for he was a profound philosopher. Failing him let us consult the old woman.”

5 1 She was very prudent and commenced to give her opinion when suddenly another little door opened. It was an hour after midnight, it was the beginning of Sunday. This day belonged to my lord the Inquisitor. He entered, and saw the whipped Candide, sword in hand, a dead man upon the floor, Cunegonde aghast, and the old woman giving counsel.
6 2

At this moment, the following is what passed in the soul of Candide, and how he reasoned:

If this holy man call in assistance, he will surely have me burnt; and Cunegonde will perhaps be served in the same manner; he was the cause of my being cruelly whipped; he is my rival; and, as I have now begun to kill, I will kill away, for there is no time to hesitate. This reasoning was clear and instantaneous; so that without giving time to the Inquisitor to recover from his surprise, he pierced him through and through, and cast him beside the Jew.

7 2

“Yet again!” said Cunegonde, “now there is no mercy for us, we are excommunicated, our last hour has come. How could you do it? you, naturally so gentle, to slay a Jew and a prelate in two minutes!”

“My beautiful young lady,” responded Candide, “when one is a lover, jealous and whipped by the Inquisition, one stops at nothing.”


The old woman then put in her word, saying:

“There are three Andalusian horses in the stable with bridles and saddles, let the brave Candide get them ready; madame has money, jewels; let us therefore mount quickly on horseback, though I can sit only on one buttock; let us set out for Cadiz, it is the finest weather in the world, and there is great pleasure in travelling in the cool of the night.”

9 1 Immediately Candide saddled the three horses, and Cunegonde, the old woman and he, travelled thirty miles at a stretch. While they were journeying, the Holy Brotherhood entered the house; my lord the Inquisitor was interred in a handsome church, and Issachar’s body was thrown upon a dunghill.
10 1 Candide, Cunegonde, and the old woman, had now reached the little town of Avacena in the midst of the mountains of the Sierra Morena, and were speaking as follows in a public inn.

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14 Responses to “Chapter 9 – What Became of Cunegonde, Candide, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew”

Don Issachar’s question here reveals his utter inability to understand Cunegonde’s position. Although she is at the mercy of his arrangement with the Grand Inquisitor, he imagines that Cunegonde is with Candide because the Inquisitor “was not . . . enough” for her. Don Issachar’s logic extends, implicitly, to her relationship with him, as well: presumably she is with the Inquisitor because Don Issachar is “not enough,” either. His interpretation turns Cunegonde into a voracious and demanding lover and allows him to recast himself as the victim of her romantic scheming, thus masking the sordid reality of his arrangement with the Inquisitor.

The sudden introduction of the sword seems surprising; surely the narrator could have mentioned it before? It adds to the fairy-tale-like quality of the scene–the sword appears as if by magic–and also serves to distance Candide somewhat from his actions; he has not been looking for trouble, and so the sword is a minor detail until it becomes necessary.

The juxtaposition of “gentleness” with swift and decisive violence is nonetheless unsettling. As the narrator relates, “despite his gentleness,” Candide “laid the Israelite stone dead.” That he happens to fall “upon the cushions at Cunegonde’s feet” seems a perverse take on traditional quest narratives, in which the hero must show his devotion by sacrificing many enemies to his mistress. In the real world, however, murder is a serious business; as Cunegonde quickly reminds him, his actions have far-reaching moral (“Holy Virgin!”) and legal (“If the officers of justice come . . .”) consequences.

It is surely deliberate that the narrator reminds the reader, on the cusp of Candide’s second murder, of the petty arrangement between Don Issachar and the Inquisitor. As Cunegonde relates in Chapter 8, “Quarrels have not been wanting, for they could not decide whether the night from Saturday to Sunday belonged to the old law or to the new.” That the Inquisitor appears promptly at midnight, during the long-disputed timeframe, to claim his prize, further distances the reader from his impending murder. It is difficult to sympathize with a character so barbarously drawn.

Candide’s deliberations are intriguing here. He begins practically, imagining not only his own welfare, but Cunegonde’s as well. Then his reasoning becomes more personal: the Inquistor had him whipped, and is his rival. The final justification–slipped in among the others without much distinction–is the most startling: “as I have now begun to kill, I will kill away.” It is not as if Candide has stolen one diamond and might as well have stolen two, because stealing is stealing. Surely two murders are worse than one, especially when the Inquisitor’s death is less pressing: Candide kills him before he can even “recover from his surprise.”

The characterization of Candide’s decision is certainly meant to give the reader pause. But what are we ultimately to make of his actions? The next paragraph only deepens the mystery.

That Candide is “naturally so gentle,” yet capable of “slay[ing] a Jew and a prelate in two minutes,” continues to raise interesting questions about the nature of his actions here.

Candide’s response to Cunegonde implicitly suggests that, under other circumstances, he wouldn’t be capable of such inexplicable brutality. But he is motivated by external circumstances, both magnanimous (being a lover) and selfish (jealousy), not to mention the persecution of the Inquisition. These circumstances have changed Candide, so that he must “stop at nothing,” not even murder. He is adapting to the “best of all possible worlds,” and that seems to mean becoming inured to violence.

Candide uses the opportunity of their deaths to cement the unflattering parallels between Don Issachar and the Grand Inquisitor. Though Christian readers might be tempted to side with the Inquisitor, the two men are fundamentally similar, to the point where they fight over the same woman and meet the same death. Their respective burials–the Inquisitor “interred in a handsome church” and Issachar “thrown upon a dunghill”–measure only the extent of contemporary prejudices. That they receive such different rites is an ironic comment on society, not on the relative goodness of each man.

Nicole, I definitely agree with your analysis of Don Issachar’s character, for ultimately this question portrays him as insecure, insensitive, and crude. Additionally, this character development subliminally adds an anti-Semitic element to the text. Though religion is oftentimes mocked (for example, in chapter III the couple that believes the Pope is the Antichrist comes off as fanatic and cruel, while the Anabaptist is the compassionate benefactor), the Jew is the only religious figure set up as iniquitous, while all others are merely foolish or corrupt. According to University of Leicester’s Nigel Aston in Christianity and revolutionary Europe, 1750-1830, Voltaire’s anti-Semitic stance was in keeping with the times where, “Enlightenment thinkers did little to dilute popular resentments [towards Jews], seeing Hebraism as a conservative, marginal, and backward-looking culture which resisted integration”.

Evil Candide? (1 of a series of 3)
Nicole Horjesi has noted a turn in Candide’s actions. Others writing about Voltaire’s book often portray Candide as a blank white sheet upon whom first Pangloss and then society write (and white is one meaning of ‘candid’). I haven’t checked carefully, but I think the second slaying is Candide’s first unguided and non-reactive decision to injure. Candide will show at least a half-dozen flashes of temper, most frequently when confronted with the pompous nobility of Cunegonde’s brother. He will never again be quite “so gentle,” and he does not recover his equilibrium until the final chapter. Candide fails in an important and different way at mark 6 of Chapter 19 (

Perhaps the most ironic and satirical aspect of Voltaire’s Candide is his adherence to some of the societal trends of modern day we find so abhorrent. Voltaire makes no point to ridicule the Anti-Semitic or African views of his period. Specifically in this passage, Isaachar is vilified as a Jew and Voltaire even makes reference to the Biblical period of enslavement experienced by the Jews in Babylon. Casting Isaachar as “choleric” allows Candide to kill off the man in a manner similar to the death of the Inquisitor, but devoid of the humor surrounding the Catholic Church. Such aridity in prose will also be evident in the Old Woman’s descriptions of her rape by the Negro in a future chapter.

Although regarded as a progressive novel, Candide also allows the reader to examine how pervasively and strongly certain elements of society were driven into the manifestations of a man’s character.

I don’t find it particularly ironic that a work of satirical fiction attacking the prejudices of a racist, bigoted and oppressive era falls short of establishing relevant norms for a contemporary moral correctness. Furthermore, enlightenment thinkers could often sympathize with the humanist tendencies of Christianity, while attacking the authoritarian aspects of the Mosaic heritage. These circumstances hardly favoured an open-minded view of judaism.

Thus far Candide has been unable to produce his own beliefs and still clings on to Pangloss philosophy.Even when he finds himself in a difficult situation he seeks the opinions of others to reach a decision. Candide asking the old woman for advice demonstrates his desperation and further emphasizes his inability to think for himself.

Once Candide finds himself in the position of being a murderer of one man, he feels it does not worsen matters by killing a second time. He understands that the Inquisitor has responsibilities, while at the same time, Candide knows he must act out of self-preservation. Voltaire presents the readers with a situation, which highlights the extreme measures that must be taken in order for man to survive.

Jose Castro says:

Voltaire obviously continues to criticize the Catholic Church, showing the Grand Inquisitor to be nothing more than a sinful womanizer.

He also stereotypes Don Issachar, portraying him as a greedy, stingy money-grubber who hopes to buy himself earthly happiness. In today’s society, one can see a Don Issachar everywhere, for money and materialism abound.

The old woman here is seen directing Candide and Cunegonde to do what is necessary for them to be saved from the consequences of what Candide did. She has a wide range of knowledge about the voyage the three of them will have to make and she directs what will happen. She refers here to her one buttock, which we later find out the reason why she only has one in her story. Although the first thing she mentions is the negative aspect of the now ruined body that she possess, the next two things are quite optimistic and happy. The optimism that she has about the weather holds more value and meaning than she could have about people. Weather is more predictable and likely to disappoint a person, than people are. Weather is always fair and not calculating when people are the opposite.