Challenged by Cunégonde on which one of them has suffered more, the old woman tells the sorrowful story of her life. She was the daughter of the Pope and a princess, and happily engaged to a beautiful prince. On a journey with her mother, she was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Morocco. The arrival of the slaves in Morocco caused a Civil War there, from which she barely escaped. The old woman expresses the opinion that Africans, such as the Moroccans who kidnapped her, are more hot-blooded and violent than Europeans, who, by comparison, might as well have milk in their blood.
Many characters in Candide have stories of misfortune, and many of them began life in high positions. These recurring stories of misfortune suggest, pessimistically, that suffering is a universal feature of human life. The old woman's story also parodies a narrative common in the literature of the time: a high-born person ends up in a position of lower social status. The racist stereotypes expressed by the old woman are common in Candide, in which most of the characters are caricatures or archetypes of some kind.