The Plague – Novel Analysis The Epidemic in a Few Pages The Plague is a novel describing the plague epidemic in the large Algerian city of Oran in the 1940s. In April, numerous rats staggered into the open to die. Once a mild hysteria gripped the population, the newspapers began searching for any action they could take. Finally, the authorities arranged for the daily collection and cremation of the rats, but by mid-afternoon they were already pilling up again. When a cluster of cases of a strange fever appeared, Dr.
Rieux’s partner, Castel, became certain that the illness is the bubonic plague. He and Dr. Rieux are forced to confront the indifference and denial of the authorities and other doctors in their attempts to urge quick, decisive action. Only after it became impossible to deny that a serious epidemic was ravaging Oran, the authorities did enforce strict sanitation measures, placing the entire city under quarantine. The public went into shock due to their sudden imprisonment and intense longing for absent loved ones.
Many people indulged in selfish personal distress, convinced that their pain was unique in comparison to the rest of the towns. Father Paneloux delivered a stern sermon, declaring that the plague is God’s punishment for Oran’s sins. Raymond Rambert attempted to escape Oran in hopes of rejoining with his wife in Paris. He tried to escape with the help of Cottard’s criminal buddies. In the mean time, Meanwhile, Rieux, Tarrou, and Grand relentlessly battled the death and suffering of the plague. Rambert eventually finalized his escape plan, but, upon learning that Pieux was separated from his wife, Rambert became ashamed to flee. He chose to stay behind and continue to fight the epidemic.
Cottard committed an unknown crime in the past, so he has lived in constant fear of arrest and punishment. He found the plague to be a sign of relief because he was no longer alone in his fearful suffering. He accumulated a great deal of wealth as a smuggler during the epidemic. Since the exile lasted for so long, the people lost their selfish obsession with personal suffering. They came to view the plague as a disaster that was everybodys concern, and many confronted their social responsibility and joined the anti-plague efforts. When M. Othon’s son suffered a prolonged, excruciating death from the plague, Dr. Rieux shouts at Paneloux that he was an innocent victim. Paneloux, deeply shaken by the boy’s death, delivered a second sermon that modified the first. He declared that the inexplicable deaths of innocent people forced the Christian people to choose between believing everything or believing nothing at all about God.
When he fell ill, he refused to consult a doctor, leaving his fate entirely in the hands of divine Power. He died clutching his crucifix, but the symptoms of his illness did not truly match those of the plague. When the epidemic ended, Cottard could not go on. He began randomly firing his gun into the street until he was captured by the police. Grand, having recovered from the plague, vows to make a fresh start in life. Tarrou dies just as the epidemic was ending, but he battled with all his strength for his life, just as he helped Rieux battle for the lives of others. Rambert’s wife joined him in Oran right after the city gates were opened.
Dr. Rieux’s own wife died of a prolonged illness before she and her husband could be reunited and the public quickly returned to its old routine. Once I finally finished reading this novel, I was overjoyed. I was interest in the bubonic plague and that was the only reason I chose this novel. Camus could have very easily increased the enjoyment of reading by correcting a few problems, but there were some aspects that I loved about it. If I am reading any type of writing and I stumble upon a word that I cannot say, I improvise with something that to anyone else would sound like a sigh of relief but it sounds as it looks. The Plague, due to my limited ability to pronounce French names, was filled with characters that practically had no names. I find it difficult to keep track of each character anyway, and this made it virtually impossible. All of the time I was reading, I was wondering who it was talking or trying to save a life.
If Camus could have only used names that started with different letters it would have been easier, but many of the names started with the same letter such as: Rambert and Rieux. The name issue really bothered me while I was reading this novel. I enjoy books that do no veer away from the main plot of the story. When Camus mentioned things about the characters child hoods or an insignificant happening of their lives, I felt as though I was watching a really good show on television, and it was paused for a commercial. The subplots in some books are relevant and almost necessary to allow them to make sense, but the ones in this book only served as page-fillers.
Even though when this happened the rats really did spread the plague, I enjoyed that aspect of the novel the most. The rats symbolized filth and disease at the beginning, but before it was over the rats had been reborn into a symbol of life and a chance to start over. In Albert Camuss novel The Plague, there are three main cases of symbolism. All of these cases portray the different stages that the plague went through. There are different stages all of which are brought on by different occurrences that have a much deeper meaning than what is printed on the pages.
Before any people fell ill, rats began to be found dead in numerous unexpecting places. Dr. Rieux found a dead rat in his building to which his concierge r …