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Dr. Rieux pays a visit to the asthmatic Spaniard, an elderly patient of his that lives on the outskirts of town.
As the mysterious illness spreads and the weather takes a turn for the humid and muggy worst, everyone feels terrible – except for the old Spaniard. He thinks the weather is just great for his asthma.
Everyone freaks out about the outbreak of the plague; the old man chuckles over the matter.
Tarrou pays a visit to the Spaniard first with Rieux and then by himself.
He observes that the man passes the time by transferring peas from one pan to another; this is also how he knows when it’s time to eat, get up, function, etc.
Tarrou records that the man is only bed-ridden because he chooses to be.
The patient’s defense for his bizarre lifestyle is the following (at least according to Tarrou): the first half of a man’s life is uphill, and the second half (where he obviously resides at the moment) is downhill. Because life may be snatched from him at any moment, the best thing is to do exactly nothing with his days.
Tarrou notes that the man seems to have no problem with contradicting himself.
The Spaniard declares that God doesn’t exist, which is obviously why we have priests.
The Spaniard also has a desire to die at a very, very old age.
Tarrou ponders whether the man is a saint and concludes that yes, he is, as long as saintliness is defined as "the aggregation of habits."
During another visit of Tarrou and the doctor, the old patient gleefully anticipates that the town will get fed up with this plague business and have a lovely little rebellion of sorts.
Hearing of Tarrou’s death, the Spaniard declares he was a man who always knew what he wanted and never minced words. He seems to have had an affinity for the man.
The old man is also baffled that everyone is celebrating the recession of the plague and the opening of the gates. What does "plague" mean anyway, he wonders, concluding that plague is just life itself and nothing more.
The last we see of him, the Spaniard is insisting to Rieux not to worry about him, since he knows how to live (even if these other crazies don’t).
However, he adds he does find it amusing that they’re going to build a memorial for everyone who died in the plague. He can just imagine them giving lovely speeches and then going off to have a snack.