Letters, telegrams, books, diaries, sermons, etc. Writing and words are an important form of communication, and yet they all fail to communicate human warmth. OK…so what’s the symbol? If people have trouble communicating with each other, it gets at a larger (and much more serious) problem: a lack of understanding and sympathy. Rieux waxes poetic for pages about how we can’t comprehend the suffering of others because we don’t really know what it’s like for them to hurt. The language barrier, then, is symbolic of this emotional barrier.