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Inexperienced Minds In Albert Camus' The Plague

1952 words - 8 pages

Inexperienced Minds in The Plague  

The town itself, let us admit, is ugly. These are the words of Dr. Bernard Rieux, the narrator of Albert Camus The Plague. His accurate, unexaggerated descriptions of a town’s sufferings, bring the novel to life. The town of Oran becomes afflicted with a plague, and Rieux, the town doctor, watches the town quickly die away. He joins forces with Jean Tarrou, Raymond Rambert, Joseph Grand, and Father Paneloux, hoping to defeat the unbeatable enemy. The quarantined town ultimately defeats the disease, but not before incredible losses are suffered. All of the men learn about themselves and each other, while by battling the plague. The realize that life ...view middle of the document...

Jean Tarrou is a man who wanders into Oran prior to the plague. He becomes a friend of Rieux s and his chronicles of the ordeal appear throughout the novel. He is immediately intrigued by the numerous lifeless rats appearing in the city. Raymon Rambert is a French journalist who unfortunately ends up in Oran at the time of the plague. He longs for his wife in Paris, but is forced to stay in Oran. Joseph Grand is a poor writer in Oran, attempting to write the perfect book. Dr. Richard is a colleague of Rieux s, one whom Rieux consults when the problem originates. After at least 8,000 rats die, the malady begins to move into the townspeople. The first life claimed is that of M. Michel, a concierge. Rieux now begins moving from one bed to the next, desperately trying to save the victims. After great consideration, he finally declares to the public that Oran has contracted a plague. Rieux begins to mentally deal with the plague, and wonders why it chose Oran as its target. Rieux also introduces Cottard, a prisoner who uses Oran to hide from law officials.

Once Rieux declares the plague, he is forced to defend his findings. After Oran is quarantined, the citizens begin to deal with the plague in different ways. Some create new habits and wait for the disease, others run toward hope and believe it will not get them, and still others write letters, hoping they can contact the outside world. One problem affects them all, money. Their port is closed and they cannot buy or sell anything. They are isolated and try to survive on their own with little money, fresh food, or basic supplies. Everyone in the town is dismal except Cottard, the prisoner. He remains happy, a strange emotion that remains with him throughout the novel. Grand begins to review his past, to contemplate his previous endeavors. He, unlike many, is using the time positively, to improve himself. Meanwhile, Rambert still wonders why he ended up in Oran at this time. He now wants to escape from the city and return to France.

Rieux then returns to the effects of the plague. He writes of one occasion where sick family members were physically taken from their healthy relatives in an actual battle. Not only was the town separated, but the people. Rieux then describes the Church s role in the plague. Father Paneloux, the town s priest, quickly assumes the plague has come to punish the sinners of Oran, but not him. He preaches that everyone will have to suffer from the plague and actually scares many members of his congregation. He says the plague s cessation will depend upon repentance. After his long, forceful sermon, the town becomes more panicky than ever before. For example, Grand begins to have problems writing a sentence using conjunctions. He trembles violently, mutters, gulps, and acts on edge. Rambert tries to escape, first legally and then illegally. His attempts fail, forcing him to accept the dreadful situation surrounding him. Rieux then tells the reader that Tarrou has...

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