How we cite our quotes:
Yes, everyone sleeps at that hour, and this is reassuring, since the great longing of a unquiet heart is to possess constantly and consciously the loved one, or, failing that, to be able to plunge the loved one, when a time of absence intervenes, into a dreamless sleep timed to last unbroken until they day they meet again. (2.5.9)
The parted lovers try to manipulate time to ease their sorrow; this, of course, isn’t possible.
"Oran, we’re with you! they called emotionally. But not, the doctor told himself, to love or to die together—"and that’s the only way. They’re too remote." (2.8.34)
This is an important concept in The Plague; empathy can’t be had from a distance, since, as Rieux has already established, it’s difficult to comprehend suffering unless you’re in the thick of it. It is interesting that he chooses these two actions – loving and dying – to express his thought; they are two of the three actions (the other being work) that were listed at the start of the novel.
"Man isn’t an idea, Rambert."
Rambert sprang off the bed, his faze ablaze with passion.
"Man is an idea, and a precious small idea, once he turns his back on love. And that’s my point; we—mankind—have lost the capacity for love. […] Let’s wait to acquire the capacity […]. Personally, I look no further. (2.9.237-9)
Rambert sees abstraction as the enemy, as the penalty, even, for losing love. He claims that love roots us in reality, makes us concrete and palpable, whereas without it, we become mere abstractions.