The satirical novel "Candide," was written by the French philosopher, Voltaire, during the Enlightenment period, an intellectual movement that occurred in eighteenth century Europe. The plot of the story follows Candide, a young and naive man who discovers true happiness after he loses his true love, Cunegonde, and endures many hardships when he tries to find her again. Candide's final statement means that in order to find true happiness, one must actively pursue it. This relates to the novel as a whole because it was only by taking on such an arduous journey that Candide found true happiness. In addition, Candide's statement "but let us cultivate our garden,"" illustrates that he has moved from promoting the philosophy of optimism to promoting the philosophy of meliorism, the same philosophy promoted by Voltaire. Candide's final words also relate the concept of the American way of life: the idea found in the constitution that all American citizens have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The American and state governments give all American citizens access to free will and the chance to work towards their own personal version of joy.
Candide's final statement, "but let us cultivate our garden" can be interpreted as secular salvation through work," means happiness can only be found when one works for it; passively standing by will not achieve anything. At the beginning of the novel, Candide does not know true happiness because he has never had to work for it. However, when Candide kisses his love, Cunegonde, and is exiled from his uncle's castle, he embarks on a quest to find his way back to Cunegonde. This quest, although it involves numerous hardships, results in peace and happiness for Candide. He travels all over Europe, experiencing horrendous battles, public torture, and the loss of his friends. Instead of dwelling on the experiences that cause him suffering, Candide looks to the future and continues to search for Cunegonde.