Friday, August 18, 2006

The Plague post IV

The book ends with a mixture of happiness and tragedy as the plague claims its last victims and the exile for the town ends.

Bullet points from pages 172 - 252

* The judge's son falls victim to the plague and the serum is tested on him and although he lives slightly longer than usual he still dies

* Rieux shows his anger and frustration to the priest and argues that the child was innocent and God had no right to take him

* The priest has a moment of almost losing faith before dying of pnenomic plague refusing help until almost the very end from Rieux

* One of the other main characters Tarrou confides in Rieux that he always wants to show sympathy to the victims of the plague and wonders if it is possible to become a saint without believing in God

* In a very moving chapter Tarrou finally succumbs to the plague and dies. Shortly after Rieux receives a telegram telling him that his wife has died.

* As the plague recedes the narrator of the story is revealed to have been Dr Rieux and as things wind down with Rambert being reunited with his wife, grand recovering and writing to his ex-wife the final twist occurs with Cottard losing his mind and firing on the police, the final victim of the plague.

On the book jacket this is described as a metaphor for the German occupation of France during the war. With the current furore over Gunter Grass, which reminds us of the fear that connections with the Nazi party can still create, there is one particular passage, which should warn anyone who disbelieves that history can repeat itself:

"He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learnt from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city."pg 252

A full review of The Plague will be posted tomorrow...

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