Quarantine Club: Part One of The Plague

Comments

1

A. The banality of Oran sounds a little bit like the banality of Seattle. In its business-friendliness and its glamourlessness, Oran sounds like a 21st-century tech city. That was the first parallel I saw between events in the novel and my own environment. Plus, there are the authorities in Oran who keep downplaying the problem, not wanting to make a big deal about it, which reminds me of Donald Trump and Tim Eyman. Also some of the symptoms of this plague are the same as the symptoms of coronavirus: fever, respiratory issues, aches. At least coronavirus doesn’t attack people in the groin.

B. I feel like I should say the journalist or the doctor, but my honest-to-god favorite character so far is a minor one, just because he’s so odd and unforgettable. He's “the dapper little old man” that Jean Tarrou sees on a balcony dropping little pieces of paper to attract the neighborhood cats, and then when the cats come over, he spits on them. Camus writes that “the old man would spit vigorously at the cats and, whenever a liquid missile would hit the quarry, would beam with delight.” I have no idea why the hell that dapper little old man is spitting on cats, and I can’t remember if that’s a symbol of something or if he ends up being important later on, but I have my eye on him.

C. “People out at night would often feel underfoot the squelchy roundness of a still-warm body."

2

Agreed with above. One of the reasons work like this resonates is the ability to link it to our own experiences or, even more ambitiously, "universal experiences." Here it is the desire of the government to downplay risk in order to maintain business as usual, despite the warnings of experts. Our current situation so obviously reflects this. I haven't read the Plague before, but it seems to me some foreshadowing of horror to come, which could be at least partially blamed on the politicians. We will find out as we read, but we will also find out as time passes in real life. Following other outbreaks, such as avian flu, epidemiologists compare countries’ reactions to determine what worked best. I fear for the US in this regard.
I also liked the guy who attracts then spits on cats. Totally weird, but someone you could visualize – especially when described so well. Reminded me of a passage in the Pramoedya novel the Fugitive where he describes spittle flying through the air, from a car passing over the bridge above.
“Also he had the walk of a shy young priest, sidling along walls and slipping mouselike into doorways, and he exuded a faint odor of smoke and basement rooms; in short, he had the attributes of insignificance.”

3

@1 A. I have never thought of Seattle as banal, and yet your comment rings true. With a few obvious exceptions--the public library, Benaroya Hall, the Quad at UW--Seattle is built to just get by rather than inspire. We look outward to the mountains for inspiration and are content to shuffle along mostly nondescript streets that offer little sense of place. Seattle is still young and will hopefully grow into a stronger personality.

B. The parallels with the Toddler-in-Chief are uncanny.

4

@ 2 -- I love that sentence too! "In short, he had the attributes of insignificance" cracks me up, and "mouselike" is an inspired adjective given what's going on with all rats.

5

A. The incremental destruction of the norms was hitting close to home. Each day brings a new dramatic downshift in personal freedoms. It was pretty spot on with our current situation.

B. Its hard not to like Castel. But I think my favorite is Grand. I love his resignation to the permanence of his temporary post.

C. "His small, beady eyes, narrow nose, and hard, straight mouth make him look like a well-brought-up owl."

6

@ 3 Agreed about "built to just get by." Seattle constructs all these ugly, vinyl buildings, and then to make them a little less drab, developers make them tangerine or baby blue. Which only makes them MORE depressing in my eyes. I wish they used old-fashioned materials, like bricks or wood, instead of materials that look like Legos.

7

A. Striking similarities: government inaction initially, inaccurate reports, no concrete understanding of what's happening ("should we call it by its name?"), panic.
B. not sure
C. "They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences." (French: Ils se croyaient libres et personne ne sera jamais libre tant qu'il y aura des fleaux.)

8

Thank you, Christopher, for organizing this book club!
A. The perpetual sun this February in California (where I'm reading this) certainly made it hard to imagine death & destruction were right around the corner, which is what resonated for me, reading this: "Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.")

B. I do like Castel's lack of tolerance for bullshit. But I'm intrigued by Rieux's wife, especially the scene where she's leaving on the train and says "That's it! Let's make a fresh start," with sparkling eyes that turn out to be full of tears. There's a lot she's not telling him, and I'm thinking she'll come back into the story later even though she has left town.

C: "Only the sea, murmurous behind the dingy checkerboard of houses, told of the unrest, the precariousness, of all things in this world."

9

@1 A. I'm half-afraid I'll walk out the door and see rats doing death pirouettes at my feet. It's the pirouetting that gets to me.
B. Agreed: the cat-spitter is kind of indelible.
C. "Oran, however, seems to be a town without intimations; in other words, completely modern." (So deadpan.)

10

A) I was reading on the couch with my partner (hi, I’m “Maggie, location undisclosed,” aka Ballard), and a part about going out in town, typical plans being shifted - that landed it all for me. I looked up at Man on the End of the Couch and said, “Dude. We have nowhere to go...” Also, the tension between folks taking it most seriously and the “abstractionists,” like myself I must admit, who haven’t the interest in or the capacity to hold this narrative that we could be doing this shit for months.

B) Thrilled at what’s coming for M. Othon and his “two poodles.” Truthfully, I feel wildly apathetic about everyone at this juncture, but the realist in me will admit to some softness for our humble hero-so-far, Dr. Rieux. Logic - so hot.

C) The telegram. “Proclaim a state of plague...close the town.” Consider me shooketh.

11

"He tried to recall what he had read about the disease. Figures floated across his
memory, and he recalled that some thirty or so great plagues known to history had
accounted for nearly a hundred million deaths. But what are a hundred million deaths?
When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. "The grim reality of the words is powerful!

12

@1 I don't think of Seattle as banal, but maybe there's some of the lack of introspection that Oran has. Possibly this is just since it's been unusually wet where I am during the coronavirus panic but the dryness of Oran is one of the creepiest parts to me.

A. There's a line about how after the rats died the newspapers didn't care about people dying since it happened behind closed doors. This seems very different during the current crisis since the media seems eager for any kind of detail, but the part about how the epidemic went from mostly ignored to dialed up to 11 in the course of a few hours sure feels familiar.

B. I like Grand also, he is my guess for who the narrator actually is.

C. "There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise."

It's also weird reading a translated book, especially a translation I found online that might not be very good. Does anyone else's copy describe the victims as having "inflamed ganglia"?

I'm also excited for the second part of the book since I suppose it will start off with the phase we are in right now: after we realized we're fucked but before the worst has happened.

13

A) The similarities I see in Part One are simply summarized by the loud internal alarm that sounded while I read the assignment: “This Is Us, Right Now!!”

B) My (currently) choice character is unimaginative: Rieux, because I draw a line from him to our local leaders who are acting the most pragmatically, like Inslee, and my locals: Newsom, Breed. Thank goodness these humans are taking the necessary, proactive measures we so badly need right now, and how fascinating (terrifying) is it to watch the decision making happen in a reverse engineering fashion.

C) I second @8, “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.” I re-read that sentence like, half a dozen times and each time my sense of prescience doubled.

A.2) A follow up, a significant difference I see between the storyline and our reality so far: our access to the internet, and the social connection it provides. As well, the expanse of the pandemic event in our storyline—we are experiencing a situation of a global magnitude that (I think) no one living has ever experienced before.

But it feels like our ability to connect virtually as we do so offers the unique opportunity for us to create a community that wasn’t possible before. Rieux and his wife never would have been able to video chat with each other, to help alleviate their social isolation anxieties. They could not have:

Order groceries and supplies to be delivered while they are sequestered to their homes for quarantine.
Join 150K viewers on YouTube to share the Dropkick Murphys Saint Patrick’s Day livestream.
Attend a livestream yoga session hosted by their local studio.

Come together here to share in this virtual book club.

And yet here we go, disease has provided the catalyst for us to do these things, together, even if we didn't want to before we had to.

Onto Part Two!

14

A. Okay, all you people who think Seattle is banal - you have never lived in the California Central Valley. The CCR song "Stuck in Lodi Again" is about a stuporous little Central Valley town even more banal than the one I grew up in: Davis. While Davis is a tad less moribund than Lodi, summer there still boils down to an endurance test of day after day of 100 F-plus heat. Camus almost describes it:
"Hemmed in by lines and lines of whitewashed (for Davis, read: "sun-faded pastel stucco") walls, walking between rows of dusty shops, or riding in the dingy yellow streetcars (for Davis, read: "on the dingy gray asphalt streets") , you felt, as it were, trapped by the climate."
B. Like a previous poster, I like Joseph Grand, and he's my bet for being the narrator. I love the idea of an author who stuggles so fervently to find the right words.
(FWIW, I suspect Tarrou of being the Patient Zero/Typhoid Mary character; and wonder if Cottard's possibly being the "young commercial employee [who] had killed an Algerian on a beach" in Algiers is a reference to "The Stranger.")
C. Monsieur le Cat-Spitter is definitely a hit, and he gives rise to my favorite line. When the little old fellow was seen out on his balcony, disconsolate because there were no more cats, he went back into his room after just a few moments. "But first he spat once on emptiness."

15

The strange, fatal approach of the plague: the silent creeping success as normal life is peeled away and paired down.

16

A: In my real life this week I've been fascinated at the range of reactions. Some people are in complete denial, flying off to Hawaii or taking their kids to play groups of 150 kids. While others are going into complete isolation. I've seen a ferocious argument break out between two married friends who turned out to be diametric opposites in this. In Part One it seems most everyone is in the Denial stage; even the doctors seem more worried about panicking people than saving their lives.

Everyone's comparing Oran with Seattle, and that's far. Seattle is definitely a city of "business". But for my mind I was struck by how much the city sounded like my hometown of Croydon in S. London. It was razed in the blitz and rebuilt in the 50s entirely out of concrete, and is regarded as the ugliest town in Britain. It's culturally very diverse (asylum seekers are placed there by the home office) and is a great place to get a curry. But its populace is all business. People do not vacation there unless they like dubstep (it claims to be the birthplace)

B. Monsieur Cottard seems promising, a complicated character. I'm interested to see his backstory revealed!

C. Lots of good lines! I'll pick this one: "From basements, cellars, and sewers they emerged in long wavering files into the light of day, swayed helplessly, then did a sort of pirouette and fell dead at the feet of the horrified onlookers". Lovely stuff

17

@14 agreed! Reminds me of Stockton too. Nothing but a concrete jungle as far as the eye can see.

B. My favorite character so far is the doctor. He is concerned and pragmatic and as the weeks continue he is just moving on auto-pilot trying to get through the day.

C. The abstractionist section stood out for me. "But when an abstraction starts to kill you, you have to get to work on it." I was reading reports last month about delivery drivers in China being robbed for their truckloads of toilet paper. As the reality kicked in here people panicked and cleared stores of TP first.

18

Hello Julia in Tacoma! Hello Ana in Ann Arbor! Hello to all who have joined this special club!
A. As each day brings new developments, I'm seeing more and more parallels. I've been struck in the novel by the government's slow response, and how reticent they are to take action. "...to do this [take action], it would be necessary to admit officially that plague had broken out."
B. Dr. Rieux is my favorite character.
C. "The clang of an unseen tram came through the window, briskly refuting cruelty and pain."
C+: My favorite words so far (it's a tie) are "deratization" and "shilly-shally."

19

@17 Thanks! (And yes, Stockton is even worse, not least because it's so much bigger.)

And the abstractionist section struck me, too. Just in case anyone else was curious: "supposing the length of a rat to be ten inches, forty thousand rats placed end to end would make a line of..." 33,333 feet, or 6.31 miles/10.2 km.

20

Does anyone happen to know what a "check duster" is?

It appears a few pages into Part II: top of Page 76 in the 1957 Knopf Edition, middle of Page 40 in the PDF - "Grand produced from his pocket something that looked like a check duster and blew his nose noisily."

I suppose it must be some sort of handkerchief-like thing, but all my google search turned up was a lot of plaid coats.

21

Gorfram @20, I think it's a dust cloth, commonly made with a check pattern, as here: https://m.indiamart.com/proddetail/check-duster-cloth-15453223197.html

22

@18 I was struck by the same. The conversation in which government officials navigate political liability, public health, and panic, while doctors navigate bureaucracy in an attempt to reach a final outcome.

"Even if it isn't plague, the prophylactic measures enjoined by law for coping with a state of plague should be put into force immediately[.]" I'm confident similar statements were made now re: declaring states of emergency, etc.

23

A. Actually Part I gave me a bit of a stomach ache of dread. It just felt like reliving the past month-ish with a growing sense of approaching darkness. I wanted to yell, "Pay attention! Listen to the signs!" and realized that's exactly how I felt in February. (I have a background in Disaster Planning and the (non) response of our country that entire month was like studying the absolute worst scenario playing out before my own eyes. I've been a part of planning and testing and adjusting based on test and training and exercise results... and I'm no one important. How could I see this and the people in power chose to ignore, mock, and avoid responsibility‽‽ One of the main and longtime best practices for any disaster is that there be ONE SINGLE information officer who can be trusted to have and disseminate to the public the facts as known, and be able to admit what isn't known. I mean, I'm not kidding when I say that's like Planning 101. Am agitated.

B. Grand I think. I'm not certain why but the whole being a writer unable to find words intrigues me. I'll also toss my current guess on who the narrator is. I think it's the doc's wife who has left the town. Based mainly on the kind and extensive descriptions of Dr. Rieux.

C. "It was hard to find in these notices any indication that the authorities were facing the situation squarely."
Time passes, yet we relearn the toughest lessons again and again.

BTW this is the first time I've ever wished I had a kindle. Just for the ease of looking up unfamiliar words.

24

)

Sorry. Left an orphaned parenthesis.

25

@21 Thanks, EricaP :)

26

@8 -- Right there with you on the sun and blue sky (the weather in Seattle has been weirdly GORGEOUS this last week, as the epidemic rages) and how odd it is that that contradiction exists both on the west coast right now and in the book.

@9 -- I too keep thinking I'm about to see rats everywhere, and keep thinking about the death pirouettes! I almost think the pirouettes are too much, cartoony, silly, but somehow Camus pulls it off. How does he do that?

@18 -- I love that you chose favorite words, Andrea! I'm right there with you on "deratization." Can we get that word into general usage? What a word. I feel like the White House could use a deratization.

@21 -- thank you! I also googled that phrase (like @20 did) and couldn't quite figure it out.

27

(1) "Looking from his window at the town, outwardly quite unchanged, the doctor felt little more than a faint qualm for the future, a vague unease" (38). Other than the blissful traffic and absence of people and dark storefronts, everything looks the same -- like maybe it's a holiday and the city has emptied out. But we can't do anything. Everything to look forward to is cancelled. And none of us know for how long. That's the part that's weighing most heavily on me now -- the mounting disappointments (including my artist friends who have all had their lives and livelihoods cancelled out indefinitely) and no end in sight.

(2) Jean Tarrou -- a chronicler, lover of the arts. "[H]e seemed an addict of all normal pleasures without being their slave. ... In those chaotic times he set himself to recording the history of what the normal historian passes over." (24).Books like "Who Built America?" and "A People's History" have always been my favorite approaches to history -- what Americans experienced, rather than the select actions of a few.

(3) Professionally: "Never had Rieux known his profession to weigh on him so heavily" (59). I work with doctors and other healthcare providers all day. This one struck a chord with me.
Personally: "How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views" (37). This is very much what I'm feeling about the current impact.

I love how short and approachable the sentences are, even as they convey so much.

-- Chase (the one with Bunty)

28

A few replies to the great comments of you all:

@2 -- I always find "universal" work to be the blandest of all. I'd much rather have great specificity, and let others draw parallels (or not) to unique aspects that nonetheless resonate with them. This work so far is in the latter camp for me, and I appreciate that about it.

@3 -- Interesting counter-examples that put @1's description in more concrete terms and clarity for me. I tend to spend time in the fringe-ier, older places. But I think you're right. Despite its natural beauty, much of Seattle's man-made stuff, especially its architecture (from the brutalist to the brand new) is terribly uninspired.

@7-c -- I loved that section as well; the favorite I plucked comes from the same paragraph.

@8 -- I'm also very curious of what becomes of Rieux's wife! He seemed so patronizing of her (in the classic "don't exert yourself, dear" style) that I wonder if it's hinting at a showing of strength from her later. Or, it's just classically patronizing.

@16 -- I agree, watching the wide swath of responses has been very interesting (and not always for the better). There was an interesting (and sad) article on the NY Times site today, about how a bunch of people were rolling their eyes in online commentary until one of their friends came out with (paraphrasing) "Look, I know it's real because my husband -- who you all know -- is in the ICU with it right now." Like with so many other things, when it gets personal it finally rings true.

29

@27 -- "Other than the blissful traffic and absence of people and dark storefronts, everything looks the same -- like maybe it's a holiday and the city has emptied out." I thought of your comment this morning when I listened to Ben Gibbard sing this.
https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2020/03/20/43197551/a-message-to-the-city-from-ben-gibbard

And I'm with you on "How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views." Not only apt for what this moment feels like but kind of hilariously constructed, because it ends on the sillest thing: views. The internet sometimes makes me think views are going to be the end of us. Then comes a plague.

30

@14 and @17 — Re: A. I echo your Central Valley sentiments. Grew up in Fresno, and have lived in Portland 11-plus years, and still love seeing the lights of the hills here at night. Portland has its faults, but it’s not flat.

Saw lots of similarities between what’s happening in the book and in real life, but one that gave me pause is on page 41 in my edition, when “Rieux shook hands with Cottard and asked him how he was feeling.” I immediately wondered if this handshake would turn out to be the proverbial shotgun over the fireplace that would go off later in the book as a critical vector of infection.

B. Rieux is my favorite character so far, largely because he is both intelligent and doing what he can to help. He also seems to me to be a good candidate to be the narrator because so much of the action and interactions take place in his presence. Grand or Tarrou are other possibilities, as they are both writers of a sort, but the narrator does refer to Oran as “our little town,” which seems to eliminate Tarrou, who has only been there a few weeks.

C. Favorite sentence: Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

@18 — C+. In the word category, and also another similarity between the book and real life, I like that Prefect is an anagram of perfect.

31

A.) I do see Seattle as similar to Oran. From visiting other major cities, our plays, museums, waterfront spaces and parks are unsophisticated. Too much of the city and surroundings are bleak concrete, and characterless. Although some of the older homes are open to the street, no one socializes from their front yards nor porches. So the homes may as well be walled off.
One difference is the weird absence of distinct female characters. The women of the town are there; they're mentioned frequently. But never yet named, and rarely do they speak. This realization grew upon me until by the midpoint of this first section it felt very very strange. I presume it wasn't strange at the time of writing and that this is unintentional by Camus. Kudos to EricaP for selecting a female for favorite character!
Another difference is the way Dr Rieux's professional life is described. The tone is so straightforward, so stripped of emotion that it feels as if Dr Rieux does not care about his work and patients. In our current epidemic, our heath care professionals are intense in tone. And our culture for many years has extolled doctors to magical status; a modern narrative would breathlessly describe the doctor as he worked.

B.) I don't like any of them. Reluctantly, Dr Rieux. He requests the serum be sent, and seems to support actions to save the town. My feelings fall short of admiration though when he is asked in the medical board meeting for what he thinks and he provides only unclear technical judgment. One wishes that he had advised clear and decisive immediate actions.
Although he also knows that the newspapers will not provide full and accurate information, so how would he communicate his concerns to the town?

C. ) "A young commercial employee had killed an Algerian on a beach." It's as if Meursault strolled through the background of a movie as a cameo appearance.

32

Hi, from the flatlands of Oklahoma, everyone! If anyone wants desolation, head inland. Although, there is much to be said for the prairies. Disclaimer: I’m from Nevada but moved here many years ago.

@12 inflamed ganglia are a symptom in my translation also.

A. In small town Oklahoma, we have a mixture of denial (“it’s just the flu”) and serious bunkering (“see, we needed to stock up on all guns before Obama takes em all”). My job is allowing me to hunker (sans guns). The hub is an engineer in the oil industry and so far is still going into the refinery although he could do most of his job from home. (Need to keep the country in fuel.) I saw the rats pirouetting their death dances in late January as I watched the news coming from China, and we decided to cancel some domestic travel. Most around us are like the good doctor hearing the clang of the streetcar bell as a signal that all is normal.

B. I first selected Grand (as someone mentioned earlier, the writer with trouble finding his words). Grand is working on a secret project that might turn out to be this book. But I’ve found a soft spot for Tarrou who is chronicling events around him but is distracted by make and model of streetcars or other minutiae. My own notebooks are a little Tarrouish.

C. So many lovely lines. As someone else said earlier—the economy of writing with just the right splash of sensory details. Others shared many of my favorites so I’ll share this one because it’s our reality: “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves” (37).

@1 Thank you for this book club.

33

A. I’m digging the languid social interactions of the characters in 194- in contrast to the screen based/multitasked/speed dating of contemporary urban meetups. The bureaucratic dithering in the story is much easier to take than what we see from Agent Orange’s press conference horrorfest.
B. Tarrou rocks my world. Mostly because he “had a habit of observing events and people from the wrong end of a telescope.” My favorite POV.
C. My favorite sentence is: “A young commercial employee had killed an Algerian at the beach.” Not because of the poetry of the syntax, but because I’m a sucker for Easter Eggs.

34

Alain de Botton has an interesting piece in The NY Times today, Camus on the Coronavirus. Warning: There are a couple of spoilers related to the narrator.

I hope this link will work for non-subscribers.
Camus on the Coronavirus
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-camus-plague.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

35

Hi, chiming in late here from my apartment in Seattle and after I've finished Part Two, so I feel like that may tarnish my initial impressions. Here goes:

A. Initially, I didn't find too many parallels between Part One and our own current quagmire. As I was picturing a N. African town and don't see Seattle as banal (I concur wholeheartedly that banality is much more a feature of our cities and towns where cookie-cutter strip malls and housing developments reign...), I couldn't relate to the setting. The description of the plague also didn't resonate (though I loved the descriptives "piroutteing rats!"). But, I did note the authorities' confused response, hiding of the truth, and general inability to face the problem. That -- and the general sense of dread -- hit home with me as @23 and @18 have noted. I feel like that sense of dread just gets louder and louder as you progress through Part Two. But, in Part One, the feeling of doom didn't make me wish to put the book down as it did in Part Two. Now, I'm not sure I want to turn another page.

B. I'm torn between Dr. Rieux and Grand as my favorite. I think my lifetime of exposure to hero stories has programmed me to like Dr. Rieux (and I do! he's so sensible and his definitely trying to face and address the problem), but in Part One, the description of Grand really captured my attention. He's the everyman, the one who silently plugs along and keeps the cogs going. And his loss of words makes him so very human. But, he's also undoubtedly one of the red-shirted crew on the Enterprise, so I fear that he won't make it through to the end. That's why I don't think he's the narrator, though I did like @32's suggestion that his secret project is this book (we find out more in Part Two, don't we though?!). I'd like to think that Rambert is the narrator. Another journalist, though he's desperate to leave and actively trying to make that happen (we learn later). So, hrm...

C. Many great lines, but one that others mentioned above gutted me: when describing Grand, the narrator says: "he had all the attributes of insignificance." Can't stop thinking about that.

Thanks, Christopher, for putting this club together and motivating me to participate in an online community for the first time ever. It's weird writing to a bunch of strangers (on The Stranger, no less, so meta), but it's also very comforting in this time of isolation.

Finally, have all of you noticed the different cover art on all of our editions? I counted 10 different covers from the photos. The variety is fascinating, including one that looks like there's an inset with a skinny cat looking back at you (or at that gross dude who keeps trying to spit on it?).

36

@31, @33 -- Yes!! that "cameo" or "easter egg" as you guys have it AMAZES me as well.

@34 -- Thanks for sharing that link. Stephen Metcalf also just did a very good piece in the LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-03-23/reading-camu-the-plague-amid-coronavirus

@35 -- Welcome to your first online community! It's great to have you.

37

C) “Some minutes later, as he was driving down a back street redolent of fried fish and urine, a woman screaming in agony, her groin dripping blood, stretched out her arms toward him.” As someone else noted apropos of another great line—how does he pull it off? That sentence is so preposterous and overdone by conventional standards, and I probably would have edited it down. This is why I will likely always keep my day job. Truth is, there are so many great lines in Part 1. I am thinking about the many painterly descriptions of the sky and weather, invested with sense and feeling, and reflecting the mood of the viewer (usually Dr Rieux, it seems). “Nightfall, with its deep, remote baying of unseen ships, the rumor rising from the sea, and the happy tumult of the crowd—that first hour of darkness which in the past had always had a special charm for Rieux—seemed today charged with menace, because of all he knew.”

38

A. What are some similarities and differences between what's happening in the book and what's happening in your real life?
Difference: catching the plague doesn't mean you're dead. Similarity: no one takes it seriously until it's too late.

B. Who is your favorite character so far, and why?
I like Grand and Tarrou. My guess would be that Tarrou is the narrator and Grand is how Camus makes jokes about himself.

C. What is your favorite sentence so far?
"In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences."