by Albert Camus
The Plague Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stuart Gilbert's translation.
Cottard sat down and replied rather grumpily that he was feeling tolerably well, adding that he’d feel still better if only he could be sure of being left in peace. Rieux remarked that one couldn’t always be left alone. (1.8.47)
Cottard cannot integrate into society because he is guilty and wishes to be alone.
"I was thinking of people who take an interest in you only to make trouble for you." When Rieux said nothing, he went on: "Mind you, that’s not my case. Only I’ve been reading that detective story. It’s all 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 card indexes. Now, do you think that’s fair? Do you think people have a right to treat a man like that? (1.8.48)
Cottard worries about people taking too much of an interest in him. This is clearly ironic since he suffers in many ways precisely because no one takes an interest in him.
Thus, for example, a feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike and—together with fear—the greatest affliction of that long period of exile that lay ahead. (2.1.1)
The feeling of exile ends up creating camaraderie between the citizens of Oran. Well, that’s the positive way to look at it. The negative interpretation is that common confinement strips the citizens of their individuality; they are all alike in their imprisonment from their loved ones and from the rest of the world.