Her daughter, Cunégonde, was about seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and amiable.
The narrator introduces Cunégonde. Although she says little throughout the story, she serves as one of the major incentives that inspires Candide and moves the plot along. Later, Cunégonde’s brother the baron banishes Candide from his house for a kiss Candide and Cunégonde share. Candide’s banishment sparks the story’s narrative arc into play.
She innocently took hold of his hand, and he as innocently kissed hers with a warmth, a sensibility, a grace—all very particular: their lips met; their eyes sparkled; their knees trembled; their hands strayed.
The narrator describes the moment Candide and Cunégonde kiss. Unfortunately, Cunégonde’s brother the baron passes by and witnesses the tender moment. In response, the baron kicks Candide in the rear and drives him from the castle, an event that initiates the odyssey narrated in the book. Readers may note the clipped clauses in this quote. Such a staccato-like writing style satirizes the romantic romps of the time by packing a sexual encounter into one sentence.
“Good heavens!” cried Candide, “is it you? Is it Miss Cunégonde I see before me, alive? Do I find you again in Portugal? Then you have not been ravished?”
Candide can hardly believe his eyes when the old woman brings out the long-lost Cunégonde. Candide believed Cunégonde was raped and killed, so he feels overjoyed to see her once again. Reunited, he catches up on the facts. He can see that she isn’t dead, so he asks if she was indeed raped, with the hope that she will refute that as well.
I cannot see how you could be more unfortunate than I. Add to this, though born a baroness, and bearing seventy-two quarterings, I have been reduced to a cook-wench.
Cunégonde speaks to the old woman after they escape on horseback. The two women compare their tortured pasts. Cunégonde recounts the gruesome litany of her troubles, and in response, the old woman recounts her own litany, as if competing to see who suffered a worse life. Regardless, both stories portray the absurd unpredictability of human life and the amazing scope of human cruelty.