Still, it had decimated the city in the 16th century and the 17th. The doctor patiently fights the plague, but is often confused about his duty: he, as the doctor, is supposed to save people, but in the case of plague, he just has a chance to isolate them from the healthy ones, and record their death. Spring's heavy perfume is in extreme contrast to the heavy smell of death. Grand's character takes on ambiguous shapes. The Prefect sounds like a Liberal, but is an arch Conservative; he imagines himself encompassing each of his city's crises with sage wisdom and acting accordingly. He describes the blood puddles around their noses as looking like red flowers. This inconsequentiality, however — isn't this, in a broad sense, definitive of Oran? Where Tarrou has come from is a mystery, but after several days of minute observation of the city, he writes: "At last!" Chapter I is written in a sum-up style by a narrator who slips us occasional asides throughout his short discourse. Richard, the telephoned colleague of Dr. Rieux, exhibits an oft-used approach of intellectuals toward problems. He merely replied "a secret grief," and refused to look at the officer. Grand reports that a complete change has taken place in the man and Rieux does some firsthand observing. Their numbers seem only an oddity, a curiosity. The emergency measures are insufficient. Perhaps Camus' several years of newspaper writing were the genesis of this style or helped formulate his ideas concerning the need for careful, documented truthfulness. Camus' immediately attacking the problem of exposition and setting, and defining them simply and directly, establishes a tone which he will hold until the book's end. The emphasis on the habits which have been formed and cultivated by the "soulless" people of Oran are significant. Another character, although her part in the book is small, is introduced in this first chapter and is important because she exhibits a general Oranian attitude toward the plague's symptoms. The ganglia deaths are not even mentioned, and a certain knowing cynicism about journalists' reporting only what happens in the streets — not behind closed doors — reveals Camus' ever serious concern with truth. Camus and The Plague - Articles from The School of Life, formally The Book of Life, a gathering of the best ideas around wisdom and emotional intelligence. The announcement of death is paramount in Camus' philosophy and in his novels. It is at this point that one should revolt against his stultifying pattern of living. Ironically, Rieux remarks, just such insignificant people often escape plague. All rights reserved. She comes to visit her son during the first days of the plague. Recognition of bottomless death makes a habit-bound life even more absurd. (Camus 44) Rieux stays, faces his fear of death, and stays altruistic to fill the duty of being a doctor. Yet one must live committed "as if" man and love ultimately mattered. This is a wholly new experience and he savors it. This study guide and infographic for Albert Camus's The Plague offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Camus has said in one of his essays that the absurd is often encountered when one is suddenly aware that habits have strangled natural responses and reactions, that habits have simplified one into simplemindedness. Into it, however, can be read all Camus's native anxieties, centred on the idea of plague as a symbol.' Albert Camus, though denying the tag of existentialism, was and still is a great name amongst French existentialist authors who helped sculpt and define the movement in literature. The plague today is an invisible monster, but it gives birth to a better world. The final and short scene of the woman dripping with blood, stretching her arms in agony toward Rieux, is another incident to help us see Rieux as a man who is aware of human cries for help. Gulliver's Travels has improbable place names, as does Erewhon, and both works have a fairy tale quality, largely because of their ambiguous settings. People either have intercourse much as robots might, or they go about it animal-like — all this, he says because they lack time and thinking. Once they do become aware of it, they must decide what measures they will take to fight the deadly disease. Why didn't Grand respond then? His uneasy glances over his shoulder and his question about patients being arrested concern Rieux. Here is a man who challenges death in this repulsive setting and accomplishes what he desires most — making music. of being alone? The reality is like a bad dream — absurd. Action is the only answer. His thoughts of fellow Athenians fighting one another centuries ago for burial rite space for their dead foreshadows a like battle he will fight when he attempts to properly care for the sick and dying. An older doctor is present and urges him to admit it. However, Camus' novel declares that this rebellion is nonetheless a noble, meaningful struggle even if it means facing never-ending defeat. Even with Rieux, on their way to the laboratory, he suddenly dashes away to spend the evening with his bookish project. Nature seems indifferent to the mushrooming fungus of destruction. The man is a coward, afraid of indiscreet remarks, and is actually very frightened of Rieux's charges of epidemic. (There was a monthlong outbreak in Oran in 2003.) The first-person narrator is unnamed but mostly follows Dr. Bernard Rieux. Camus and The Plague. First, Rieux considers Grand's occupation as clerk. And yet The Plague ultimately makes for edifying reading in this time of quarantine. These people Camus describes are recognizable as Americans and as western Europeans. Tarrou, besides liking musicians, sees Oran as a town built of physical ugliness and of a sterile commercial spirit. He is still in vague, unbelieving awe, as if the word had barely left his open mouth. Camus seems, then, to be creating a society of habit-oriented people in order to confront them with death in its most horrible form — the plague. It is only when they are separated by quarantine from their friends, lovers and families that they most intensively love them. All of this can be an exercise, if done consciously, to revolt against time's silent, sure murder of the body. He is suddenly animated, amiable, and altogether not himself. Tarrou says he is only interested in acquiring peace of mind. His is a quiet, unsensational role, but it is exemplary in that he is totally committed to his fellow men and has "no truck with injustice or compromises with the truth.". The chronicle’s unknown narrator eventually reveals himself as Dr. Rieux, who has been trying to take a more detached view of the plague. © 2020 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Through close analysis of its formal qualities it is evident that the text can be read in three different ways. It is bound, perhaps even strangling itself, with habits. It is the story of a plague epidemic in the city of Oran in the 1940's and tells of the individual destinies of some of its inhabitants, who all react to the situation in a different way. This study guide and infographic for Albert Camus's The Plague offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Although, most of the cultural points in this novel are based off of the authors own traditions and culture, the major things to focus on are the differences between history, culture, and religious beliefs between the novel and Oran, Algeria. 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