Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

"I always say," the woman began, "if they clapped all that scum in jail, decent folks could breathe more freely."

She was too much startled by Cottard’s reaction—he dashed out of the shop without a word of excuse—to continue. (1.8.27-8)

Since we don’t know anything about this woman, we can assume she represents some sort of general or popular opinion: namely, that criminals need to be locked up.

Quote #2

"Only I’ve been reading that detective story. It’s about a poor devil who’s arrested one fine morning, all of a sudden. People had been taking an interest in him and he knew nothing about it. They were talking about him in offices, entering his name on index cards. Now, do you think that’s fair? Do you think people have the right to treat a man like that?"

"Well," Rieux said, "that depends." (1.8.50)

Two things are painfully clear from this passage: first, that Cottard is more interested in himself than protecting the rights of criminals everywhere (as Tarrou is), and Rieux, yet again, is unable to commit himself fully to an opinion one way or the other. Apparently, objectivity necessitates timidity.

Quote #3

"I should tell you, however, that they’re thinking of using the prisoners in the jails for what we call the ‘heavy work.’"

"I’d rather free men were employed."

"So would I. But might I ask why you feel like that?"

"I loathe men’s being condemned to death." (2.7.28-31)

We later find out about Tarrou’s reasons, but what’s more interesting is that he doesn’t seem to recognize the fact that all men, criminals or not, are condemned to death.

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