L’Ingénu (Huron or the Pupil of Nature) is partly a philosophical, partly a social and political satire aiming at some of Voltaire’s favorite targets. Religious establishments, received opinions, race superiority, the unjustifiable basis of institutional power are laid bare by a novelistic trick.
The protagonist is a Huron, whose country has not been yet molded into the French set ways, and he tries to adapt to the French life. In the meantime, his naïve approach is what Voltaire takes advantage of to unravel the baseless and sometimes ridiculous notions that we take for granted based on our religious convictions, or nationalistic received opinions.
Although some of these institutions may be peculiar to Voltaire’s period, his fresh and witty approach in unraveling preconceived and unchallenged assumptions is timeless and makes him a true leading participant in the French Enlightenment era.