Measures of Worth
El Dorado challenges Candide’s perception of priorities and of what constitutes value.. The juxtaposition between Candide’s perception of jewels and the schoolmaster’s perception of jewels emphasizes how exploring other countries is helpful to understanding one’s own beliefs. The narrator states, “Our travelers from the other world amused themselves by looking on. The quoits were large round pieces, yellow, red, and green, which cast a singular luster” (41). Since the narrative focuses on Candide, every other place should be considered the “other.” However, the use of the world “other” is relative to El Dorado being the “norm.” This particular description signifies that “otherness” is relative to what one is familiar with; this way of thinking does not, however, allow one to see the world without prejudice.
In contrast to Candide and Cacambo’s viewpoint, “the schoolmaster, smiling, flung [the quoits] upon the ground; then, looking at Candide with a good deal of surprise, went about his business” (41). The action of “[flinging the quoits] upon the ground” demonstrates indifference toward the jewels. From the previous extracted quotation, Candide and Cacambo are “amused” with the objects; the schoolmaster is “surprised” at the visitors. While “amused” and “surprised” are charged with a similar energy, the objects that evoke these emotions differ which signifies the disproportionate weight these two parties place upon jewels. In comparing and contrasting how the two systems differ- that of El Dorado and that of Westphalia, Candide experiences a place that is able to sustain itself without the application of familiar structures and institutions, like prisons, governments, etc. This experience signifies that there is no singular, proper, approach to creating a foundation for a nation. The approach that fuel independent gain through material goods have a direct correlation with war and violence.