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Candide: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Candide and Cacambo flee from the Jesuit camp into the unknown territory. They come across two women being chased by two monkeys. Candide shoots the two monkeys, assuming that he is rescuing the two women, and also that this is appropriate penance for having killed the Inquisitor and the Jesuit Commandant. To his great surprise, the women begin weeping over the slain monkeys, who turn out to have been their lovers—as well as a quarter human. The next morning, Cacambo and Candide have been tied up by the Oreillons, natives of the area who intend to punish the “Jesuits,” for their crimes against the Oreillons.
Though Candide has good intentions, his ignorance of the land causes him to kill the lovers of the two women. He resembles European missionaries who intended to help indigenous peoples, but ended up doing terrible harm because of their ignorance of local customs.
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The Oreillons are making preparations to boil Candide and Cacambo alive. Candide despairs. However, at the last moment, Cacambo makes a speech to convince the Oreillons that he and Candide are not in fact Jesuits, but rather enemies of the Jesuits. He manages to convince them, and the two are freed. The Oreillons give them refreshments, women, and lead them out of the territory in good cheer.
The sudden change of attitude by the Oreillons mocks the importance placed on religious affiliation. Candide and Cacambo do not prove that they are innocent of murdering the monkeys, only that they aren't Jesuits—and for this small difference of sect, they are forgiven.
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