The Reverend Commandant tells the story of his survival of the Bulgarian attack. Thought to be dead, he revived while a Jesuit priest was preparing him for burial. Becoming a minister himself, he ended up in Paraguay, where he is now Colonel and Priest.
This is one of two instances in the novel when a still-living “corpse,” wakes up. We will learn in Chapter 28 that the same thing happened to Pangloss. Ironically, the two characters who experience these “resurrections,” are the most unchanging in the novel—Pangloss never gives up on his philosophy, and the Baron never gives up on his aristocratic values.
The Commandant expresses the hope that he and Candide might be able to rescue Cunégonde from the clutches of Don Fernando. Candide agrees, mentioning that he wishes to marry her. Outraged, the Reverend Commandant denounces Candide for this insolence: Candide is not noble enough, in his opinion, to marry his sister. Candide objects that he has rescued Cunégonde from the Inquisitor and Don Issachar, that she wants to marry him, and that all men are equal according to Pangloss. The Reverend Commandant slaps Candide across the face with the flat of his blade. In self-defense, Candide kills him, and then bursts into tears, crying out that he has already killed three people without having intended to. Candide puts on the Reverend Commandant's uniform, to disguise himself, and then flees with Cacambo.
The Baron's sudden anger about Candide's intentions seems ridiculous—Candide has rescued Cunégonde twice. The baron’s extreme outrage is meant to satirize the aristocracy's illogical insistence on the importance of noble blood.One of the philosophical questions explored by the novel is freedom of will. Life seems to “happen” to Candide much more than he controls it; even when he kills people, it's mostly by reflex. Because Catholic doctrine required believing in it, questioning the freedom of the will was part of the Enlightenment critique of religion.