Of all Camus’ novels, none described man’s confrontation – and cohabitation – with death so vividly and on such an epic scale as La Peste, translated as The Plague. On June 18, General Charles de Gaulle took to the microphone in a London BBC studio and called on the French people to resist Nazi Germany and the soon-to-be established collaborationist Vichy regime under Marshal Philippe Pétain in the south. The book was published in 1947 and is considered one of the most important works by Camus. Some found it cloyingly moralistic, while others, like Roland Barthes, worried that the metaphorical use of plague risked turning the historic horrors of the Nazis into an ahistorical happening. Living has been easy; this phase is for rededication. This lethargic state of mind lulls Grand into sentimentality; he talks of Jeanne more often and feels deeper remorse. Plague victims are dying alone, away from their families, and then buried without church services. All rights reserved. Created by SparkNotes. But the doctor suggests he look into this curious rat invasion. Under the strain of growing deaths and the increasing ineffectiveness of his serum, he feels less and less competent. The townspeople are confused and Rieux notes the reduced audience for Paneloux's sermon to the men. The Prefect and most of the doctors in town are wary of calling the thing by its name. Castel's serum gives him additional strength to endlessly scream in protest against the invisible death that burns and bites into his flesh. Rambert is physically virile, animal-like, and powerfully built. Then, as if the bubonic plague wasn’t enough, it’s turning pneumonic, forcing the Prefect to issue new regulations against passing it from mouth-to-mouth. Both men begin to feel that their revolts are becoming obsolete. It is a fallacy to see the doctor as a valiant, asexual knight in surgeon's clothing. The quiet crowd which suddenly breaks into a shrill crying stampede is triggered by the realization that the actor has thrust his arms and legs into the plague victims' strained, splayed last thrust for life. But two characters have yet to be fully tested: Rambert and Paneloux. He has already suffered the fear of distrust and insecurity; the present despair of Oran makes him somewhat of an elder citizen. As nearly as possible he attempts to remain innocent. By his own questioning faith?). What more could they ask for? Tarrou quit the day he witnessed an execution by firing squad in Hungary. He also has a clever logic rationalizing his own immunity. Only at this point does he reveal his identity: The chronicler is Dr. Rieux himself, claiming that he wanted to convey the events as impartially and objectively as possible, not assuming anything about others that he couldn’t vouch for. The people have "heights" when they convince themselves that everything is okay, the plague will soon be over, and pleasure is still worth pursuing, and "depths" when they suffer from the weight of their pain and loss and confusion. There are shootouts at the gates, and some people escape. After 1945, both Gaullists and Communists maintained that the majority of French people had been active resisters. At first the child seems to be coming out of the illness, but then succumbs to it in horrible, prolonged agony, emitting a fierce cry followed by endless wailing. Soon things get much worse, though. The mass conversion of Oranians to superstition has clothed them even on mild days in oil-cloth raincoats because two centuries previously doctors had recommended them. Having spent Christmas 1959 with his wife and children in Provence, he set off for Paris driving a friend’s luxurious Facel Vega HK500. One night, Grand invites Rieux into his small apartment and shows him what he’s been working on. Paneloux's acknowledging that God is testing man's faith is akin to Rieux's viewing the plague as a test of one's humanity and integrity. And Rieux adds his own, remarking that the crematory was blazing as merrily as ever; the plague seems as efficient as a civil servant, he says. But there is something that still has a meaning.” That something, among other things, is to resist injustice, help your community and alleviate human suffering. In that same audience may be a woman who knows that she is wearing the most expensive diamonds there. When Paneloux is stricken, he abides by his city's regulations and asks to be taken to the hospital, but in the early stages of his sickness, he refuses a doctor's help. Rieux clarifies another misfortune of the lethargic state — the slackening of Tarrou's medical crews. He makes afresh start with his sentence. Everything is ready to go. The motif of separation is once again used in this chapter. Some people believe that they keep a cleaner house than anyone else on the block, others can hold their liquor better, and still others believe that they can appreciate a musical performance more sensitively than anyone else in the audience. Both suffer similar stupors, he says. That night people go out celebrating in the streets. The notebook passages concerning one of the isolation camps has an interesting twist. Like all pestilences, the plague eventually runs its course. Before the plague he had been another man, but now he has begun a letter to Jeanne, has demanded that Rieux burn years of accumulated manuscript. One seeks salvation for man, one seeks a definition of man through action, the other quests for a godless sainthood for himself. All these men have changed; unlike Cottard, each of them has sworn to maintain a personal revolt against the monstrous disease that threatens their city's entire population. The Plague by Albert Camus. Rieux, an atheist, tells Rambert to claim his happiness and as a counterpoint, the mother of the two Spanish boys, a devout Catholic, gives Rambert essentially the same advice. The doctor sees off his ailing wife on the night train, assuring her that everything will be all right. Both men were confounded by the knowledge that these unfortunates had committed crimes and yet both Tarrou and Camus refused to assent to the verdict of punishment by death. Since his work as a plague fighter, Paneloux no longer speaks particularly loudly or distinctly. Tarrou is attempting a mortal sainthood. Camus believed that the only way to confront the absurdity and pointlessness of life was to rebel against it and create meaning through action. He has been as steadfast in his struggle to cure as Rieux has been. Albert Camus, inspired by historical accounts of plague outbreaks and his experience during the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, answered that timeless question in The Plague: Get up and do something useful together! Tormented by his usual self-doubt, on the eve of its publication in 1947, he complained to a friend that it was a “livre manqué” – a waste of a book. His logic is this: if man is ill, then that illness is a part of God's plan. And he resolved to abdicate any cause that claimed human lives in some bogus pursuit of justice. More cases of the pulmonary type of plague become easier to treat; patients become more cooperative. Never before has he so minutely observed the tortured last hours before death. 1 Sounds of traditional Arab music, followed by crowd rejoicing and cheering. Next. The quiet night is indeed satisfying, but not absolutely so. But troop trains are full of drafted soldiers following orders and taking no pleasure in war. Only one person won’t join in the festive mood: Cottard has barricaded himself in his apartment and is shooting at people from his house. Text Complexity; ... View on SparkNotes Share. The Plague Summary. Dr. Bernard Rieux is the first to intuit that things are not right with the city when he notices a sudden spike in the number of dead rats around town. Albert Camus's The Plague Chapter Summary. When a bedraggled looking dog comes out onto the street – the first Rieux has seen in months – he shoots the poor animal, too. Rieux conjures up images of grotesquely masked doctors at times of the Black Death in the Middle Ages, of people copulating in the Milanese cemeteries. Yet in the end, we just have to trust in God, because the alternative would be worse. ― Albert Camus, quote from The Plague “They knew now that if there is one thing one can always yearn for, and sometimes attain, it is human love.” ― Albert Camus, quote from The Plague “The evil in the world comes almost always from ignorance, and goodwill can cause as much damage as ill … The lethargy refuses to lift itself from Oran. If the serum is not effective, it is possible that plague will prove to be the victor. The concierge M. Michel flat out denies that there could be rats in the building. After much death and despair, the plague is defeated, families and lovers are reunited and life begins anew. Afterward, he walks through the last phases of the plans for escape, but silently considering, listening to others and to himself. Now the rich can afford the steep prices, the poor cannot. He can only diagnose; he cannot cure. We, like Dr. Rieux, have seen until now only glimpses of death and last moments — never the full process of death. Now he remarks that he is saved from disastrous sentiment because of exhaustion. The doctor questions him, testing his sincerity, and says that nothing is worth the exchange of whomever one loves. To conclude, the Jesuit Father Paneloux preaches a fierce sermon opening with a bang: “Calamity has come on you, my brethren, and, my brethren, you deserved it.” Spiking his words with Old Testament quotes, somber premonitions and harrowing comparisons, he literally puts the fear of God into people – only to commend that they see the light, change their ways and embrace the love of God to atone for their sins. Still, the chronicle of the plague outbreak is only the first of many narrative layers and multiple meanings in this novel. But Camus warned his readers of complacency: Pathogens like totalitarianism, racism or mindless opportunism won’t disappear for good. Tarrou: A Bold Character The audience believes that Dr. Rieux is unchanging in his beliefs and perceptions and this could very well be true. In truth, the estimated number lies somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 – out of a population of then almost 40 million. Man must approve of God's will and make it his own. We must rise up in collective action and resist each recurring wave, over and over and over again. “The Plague” takes place in Oran, a city that Camus, as a son and partisan of its rival, Algiers, found tacky, shallow, commercial; treeless and soulless. He is specific about his reactions. The Plague Introduction The Plague, or La Peste in its original French, is a novel written by philosopher/writer Albert Camus in 1947. 78 likes. His congregation had generally decided in favor of prophecies, numerology, and speculative charms. He is no longer one of the crimson-robed elite; his clothes have been stained by Oran's bloody suffering and Paneloux has been humbled. Dying has assumed such major proportions that one can almost say that life seems the exception. In the streetcars, people are twisting their backs to avoid contact and thereby contagion. He asks for complete belief in God or else a complete denial of God, an All or Nothing proposition. The only improvement seems to be the clean shine of the cold air. They agree on smuggling the journalist past the bribed sentries out of the locked town. But one day he visited his father in court, and that day changed his life: Tarrou became an ardent opponent of capital punishment. The Plague concerns an outbreak of bubonic plague in the French-Algerian port city of Oran, sometime in the 1940s. Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Paneloux has seen such a variety of undeserved dying that he affirms the rightness of such suffering by joining the victims in their role in God's plan. In a subsequent sermon, Paneloux speaks of “we” instead of “you,” and mentions that nothing in the world could ever justify a child’s suffering. In Camus' novels, sex is never the fulcrum that it is in other contemporary fiction. Above all, the priest maintains that God must be loved. The novel tells of a group of men who don’t even try to make sense of a meaningless disease, but instead establish hygiene standards, isolate and care for the sick, develop a cure and hope for the best. The Plague, which propelled Camus into international celebrity, is both an allegory of World War II and a … The authorities declare martial law. He wrote large parts of the novel while working for the French Resistance paper. An oily, awful-smelling odor descends on that part of town. He is certain that he could have helped her make a good recovery. Finally, the Prefect receives an order to proclaim a state of emergency and close the town. He cannot say whether or not the plague is more fierce than it was yesterday; he can only measure his own competence, and the result is negative. Rieux agrees. The first-person narrator is unnamed but mostly follows Dr. Bernard Rieux.Rieux notices the sudden appearance of dying rats around town, and soon thousands of rats are coming out into the open to die. But Tarrou ignores this and enrolls his first team of voluntary “sanitary squads,” which are soon followed by others. Not long after that sermon, Paneloux dies of plague. The move takes everybody by surprise. Yet they have a hard time processing that information. When his nerves at last shatter, he runs toward the sea crying to his wife and this release of emotion is his last genuine grasp for happiness. At present, the priest is visibly shaken by the ordeal; Rieux's anger disturbs him, and although he answers the doctors dogmatically, the boy's death will ferment within him and he will reconsider Rieux's angry assertion that because of the child's innocence they have been joined and bonded. Rieux agrees with his much older colleague Dr. Castel that it can be nothing other than plague. bookmarked pages associated with this title. Even Cottard, Tarrou notes, begins to toss off ironic comments. He fights and dies in a classroom, a room where he should have come for growing and maturing. The book … There are times when it is not cowardly, but natural and necessary to want to swing high and away on birch branches, and, " . It is more thorough and serious in its consequences, but as necessary and as difficult as Grand's. by Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits | Feb 21, 2017. Letters can now be clandestinely sent and received. And although the death rate among burial workers is high, the list of applicants is long – at this point many fear hunger more than plague. Previously the city has been indiscriminately attacked. The disgust which Tarrou conveys in recounting the trial proceedings — the euphemisms for beheading, the duty of condemnation expertly pronounced by his father in a matter-of-fact fashion — is found in greater detail in Camus' essays on justice and death penalties in Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. Just before Christmas, Rieux catches Grand in front of a shop window with tears in his eyes: The old clerk remembers his early and happy days with his young wife, who left him after a few years of unfulfilled hopes. What matters is that people are dying from a highly infectious disease, and a wait-and-see policy could have deadly consequences. Then, curiously, it allows itself to be more exactly diagnosed into two definite forms: pulmonary and bubonic. On January 4, 1960, he died in a car crash en route to the capital. From the title, you know this book is about a plague. We have to defy the meaningless by creating meaning through action and resistance. Tarrou approves of the extreme position which Paneloux has taken for himself. He now talks little about his plans of escape; no longer does he boast. Here he modifies the impression of a superhuman with devoted perseverance. Because he is no longer comfortable with his ready-made store of threats, he begins to question the basis of his faith. She too understands why he must return to his wife: the girl is pretty, Rambert is sensual; he does not believe in God, man must worship and believe in something — even if it is no more than a girl, himself, and their love. Grand shows all the symptoms of plague, but against the doctor’s expectations he recovers. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis … The complicated liaison would later turn into outright hostility, as Camus was an anti-Stalinist at a time when it was not yet cool to be one. Rieux notes this fresh quality at the beginning of Chapter 24 and remembers the old Spaniard remarking about its pleasant coolness. His daughter Catherine Camus, when asked about the book’s newfound popularity, said that its core message was now more pressing than ever: “We are not responsible for the coronavirus, but we can be responsible in the way we respond to it.”. His mother, who was half-deaf, worked as a cleaning woman. The plague is still rampant and must be continuously contested. It had been ousted from civilized countries and had no reason for attacking Oran. The path to attain peace, he says, is that of sympathy. In 1957, at almost 44, the Algerian-born Camus became the second youngest Nobel Prize winner ever. The plague's image has changed from that of a whip to that of a teacher. 4.3 out of 5 stars 10. The utmost in abominable evil is exactly what he is witnessing: the suffering of a young innocent child — conclusive proof for him that the universe is irrational and indifferent to man. Two days later the man is dead. If he supported the French underground to demolish, for instance, a troop train he would be aiding his defeated country in its struggle against the enemy. He finished a Master’s degree in Philosophy, joined and left the Communist Party. All of these characters are called to Othon's home to watch a last-resort experiment of Dr. Castel's new serum on the boy. Rambert is standing looking front with a 1940s-style microphone in his hand. Their serum supply and its effectiveness is "running out of gas." The shouting football activity is gone. He realized that he’d had the plague all along. The church offered little understanding and hope for their plight. Eventually he resolves to give in and join Tarrou’s relief effort for the time being. . There seems to be a strengthening of resistance even if it eventually fails. It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition. Winter approaches but the plague does not abate. Paneloux was not alone in questioning his faith. The intention is clear: Don’t raise unwarranted alarm. The father Tarrou describes to Rieux had, in Tarrou's words, a peculiarity: although he seldom traveled, he knew the arrival and departure times for all trains that stopped in Paris; in addition, he knew the changes that must be made if one wanted to go as far, say, as Warsaw. Yet for every German killed, about 50 to 100 French hostages were executed in retaliation. 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