How we cite our quotes:
That the regulations now in force were inadequate was lamentably clear. As for the "specially equipped" wards, he knew what that amounted to: two out-buildings from which the other patients had been hastily evacuated, whose windows had been hermetically sealed, and round which a sanitary cordon had been set. The only hope was that the outbreak would die a natural death; it certainly wouldn’t be arrested by the measures the authorities had so far devised." (1.8.75)
While Rieux and his colleagues struggle to do their duty, the Prefect and other government authorities are lying down on the job. But do we blame them for the events that follow?
The truth is I wasn’t brought into the world to write newspaper articles. But it’s quite likely I was brought into the world to live with a woman. That’s reasonable enough, isn’t it?
Rieux replied cautiously that there might be something in what he said. (2.2.35-36)
Rambert manipulates terms like "duty" and "obligation" to justify what The Plague seems to label as cowardice.
"I’ve drawn up a plan for voluntary groups of helpers. Get me empowered to try out my plan, and then let’s sidetrack officialdom. In any case the authorities have their hands more than full already. I have friends in many walks of life; they’ll form a nucleus to start from. And, of course, I’ll take part in it myself." (2.7.34)
Tarrou obviously holds a sense of duty to help fight the plague; but he doesn’t seem to know why he feels this way. His following conversation with Rieux is his attempt to understand his obligation.