The Plague: By Albert Camus Essay, Research Paper
The Plague written by Albert Camus tells the story of a city gripped by a deadly disease. The story takes place in the desert town of Oran, Algeria, in northern Africa. The city suffers from extremes of weather conditions. In the summer, the heat forces the inhabitants ?to spend those days of fire indoors, behind closed shutters.? The shutters are closed just as the people of the town turn themselves off from there neighbors. The main focus of every citizen in Oran is himself. The previously mentioned comparison underlines indifference and the role that it played in the lives of everyone not just the people of Oran. ?The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits. Our citizens work hard, but solely with the object of getting rich.? Everyone has become and individual in Oran. The focus of the entire society is on oneself instead of the society as a whole. The following quote from Camus on page 5-6 illustrates this perfectly ?The town?s so being disposed that it turns its back on the bay, with the result that its impossible to see the sea, you always have to go look for it.? The citizens of Oran, need not worry about the well being of their community, as each of them is wrapped up in his own concerns.
Everyone in Oran wishes to be an individual, to have none of the problems of the rest of the world. The people of Oran don?t want to be stuck in the ?same boat? with someone else; each believes that one man?s problem is his own, while they truly affect everyone. An example of this is found on pages 26-27 when the hotel manager talks about being in the ?same boat? with a spiteful tone filled with disgust.
The Plague catches the city completely by surprise; no one is prepared for it. The city?s doctors gather to discuss the matter. They refuse to accept it for what it is. This ignorant attitude reflects that of the entire town. The naive people refuse to accept the severity of the situation, and try to continue life as they always have lived, in their selfish pursuits.
The struggle with The Plague begins with individuals. The first to attempt to fight the disease are doctors. Their individual efforts are valiant but ultimately they prove to be futile. An epidemic is not a problem that one man can solve the entire society must contribute in order to dispose of The Plague. The number of victims lost to The Plague climbs higher and higher. Finally, the citizens of Oran begin to take notice and unite.
Ironically the help comes from the most unexpected places and, from the most unexpected people. One of the men who joins the fight against the plague is Tarrou, a visitor to the city and, an outsider. He leads the effort to form a sanitation squad. He tells Dr. Rieux, ?That, too, is why this epidemic has taught me nothing new except that I must fight it at your side.? (Camus page 222) Tarrou simply hates to see human suffering ignored by almost everyone.
I believe that Tarrou is the character that best symbolizes the fight against indifference. He begins the story as an outsider. He is not from Oran, and he has no business in the city. When the Plague struck the town he could easily have turned his back on the people of Oran. Instead, he acts like a compassionate human being and he stays and fights at the side of Rieux and the others. Tarrou?s love for life is illustrated when he talks of the man he saw his father prosecute. From that time onwards, he openly opposed the death penalty, which he calls murder. Tarrou exemplifies everything that is good in man. Tarrou was not an extraordinary character. He acted just like Frankl. In Man?s Search for Meaning Frankl didn?t have to stay to take care of the Typhus patients but he did because of his compassion for his fellow humans. Through his actions Tarrou became an example of the goodness possible for a person to attain.
I found Camus?s creative style to be very interesting. When I was reading it was almost like he took me directly inside each of the character?s thoughts. The use of sensory images throughout the book also interested me. The vibrant picture he painted of Oran with his vivid descriptions of The Plague and of the city itself made the book more interesting. The characters in The Plague are similar to Frankl?s book in the sense that in both books the people have to struggle to survive. It is the strength of the human spirit and the ability to coexist with one another which ultimately determines the fate of the charcaters in both books.
Camus,Albert “The PLAGUE”