Camus contracted tuberculosis, a highly contagious disease, in 1930 at the age of 17. He was forced to abandon his ambitions in football (he was a goalkeeper at the prominent Algerian University team then). He was long confined to bed, and thus only able to study part-time. One feature worth noticing is that even though Camus was once a patient, he chose to narrate the story from a doctor’s perspective rather than the ill one. Shouldn’t he had more experience as a patient? Why did he choose to do so? Is there anything Camus hopes to convey that would be abortive if presented from a patient’s point of view? By far we have read about the plague from various perspectives, and these lead us to the broader question: How does the perspective of narration influence the reader’s conception towards an idea or an event?
Having the experience of being the infected one, Camus is concerned about the sufferings of the patient and how people should treat and react to them. Yet, he started the setting with citizens concerned solely about themselves, about doing business and earning money. Inundated with individualism, the town is a place where “discomfort attends death” . People were so concerned about commercials and profits that they behave extremely indifferently toward each other. They were so obsessed with business that they were completely unprepared when the plague struck by surprise. Is the plague a punishment from some divine power for the sin of greed?
The reaction of the government and the measures taken have significant influences on the spread of the plague. What is the moral dilemma that falls upon the government when a plague hits their people/city? Do they tell them and risk panic that will cause them to attempt to leave and further spread the disease? Or do they risk their community and population completely dying?
Reading Camus, made us think of Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’. The story revolves around the threat a new world plague created by a deranged lunatic. The protagonist Robert Langdon and other government institutions are on the race to find the threat and eliminate it before it destroys the world. The fear arises from the fact that no one really knows what the ‘plague’ actually is. This is the same in Camus’s ‘The Plague’. The fear arises from the unknown factors at play in a plague. The unknown cause, the fear of waiting for one’s own possible demise. In the ‘Inferno’, the creator of the plague claims that the plague is nature’s way of purging the earth. Is it a natural response for over population of the earth?
Who is responsible during a plague? Is it the authorities? The patient himself? Or medical practitioners? Whose responsibility is it make sure that the plague is curbed? Who does the responsibility fall onto if the “Global Health Organization” can not find a cure for an epidemic, does it fall back to the individuals that carry these diseases?
Furthermore we found an interesting Reddit post about a guy who, through his words, had the responsibility of letting the world know of an upcoming plague or pandemic. Despite the government forbidding him from leaking the information. He took the burden of releasing the information although he has no way of finding a cure.
–Lateefa, Kai-Wen, Neha