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‘To Dip My Hands in Blood’
The Old Conductress: Volataire’s Candide, Chapter 9, pages 35-37
What Happened to Cunegund, Candide, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew
“This same Issachar was the most choleric little Hebrew that had ever been in Israel since the captivity of Babylon.
“What,” said he, “thou Galilean slut? The Inquisitor was not enough for thee, but this rascal must come in for a share with me?” [1]
The Jew then attempts to murder Candide with a long dagger and “the honest Westphalian,” drew his sword and “very gentle and sweet-tempered” ran the banker through and dropped him at his darling’s feet.
The Grand Inquisitor then enters and Candide declares, “…he was the cause of me being so cruelly whipped; he is my rival; and as I have now begun to dip my hands in blood, I will kill away, for there is no time to hesitate.” [2]
Cunegund is now upset with Candide for slaying her owners and putting her life in forfeit. But the old woman comes to the rescue with an escape plan, which she seems to have had in mind all along.
One wonders if Tolkien combined Oden and the Old Conductress to come up with the plot-propelling Gandalf character for his Middle Earth fantasies.
Notes
-1. This theme of the patriarch or master being the only person due the favors of a woman, and all other men commit crimes touching a woman, reflects the reality of Plantation America so completely that it is not a surprise that Candide accuses those who resided in the civilization that spawned the American abomination of the very same amorous politics.
-2. It was this sentiment, sent like a warning to the French ruling class, delivered better than a generation before they would be set upon by those they ruled so cruelly, that inspired this writer to include Candide as a study in restive servile attitudes in 18th century European slave societies. For what I have seen in a study of some 400 acts of servile insurrection and uprisings in Plantation America, was a high reluctance to strike out at the master class on the part of the slaves, followed—in those cases when the initial stroke was made—by either an immediate collapse of resistance against the avenging master class or a resolution such as espoused by Candide, that once the battle is joined, half-measures mean certain doom. In this, in combat, the protagonist, fool that he is, is well-served by his candid nature.
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