| Quote #16
They had lost love’s egoism and the benefit they derived from it. Now, at least, the position was clear; this calamity was everybody’s business. (3.1.31)
Love makes the citizens feel as though they are privileged above others, but the plague makes the town a level ground.
| Quote #17
For, characteristically, the sound that rose toward the terraces still bathed in the last glow of daylight, now that the noises of vehicles and motors—the sole voice of cities in ordinary times—had ceased, was the drumming of innumerable soles time to the eerie whistling of the plague in the sultry air above, the sound of a huge concourse of people marking time, a never ending, stifling drone that, gradually swelling, filled the town from end to end, and evening after evening gave its truest, mournfulest expression to the blind endurance that had ousted love from our hearts. (3.1.32)
Rieux has spoken before of his heart having to be hardened in order for him to do his job well. Here again he says that "blind endurance" has "ousted love from" the hearts of Oran. But is he telling the truth? Rieux’s reaction to Jacques’s death was hardly a "hardened" one devoid of love. At what point in the novel does Rieux experience this loss of emotion, and at what points does it return? Where does he stand at this point in Part III?
| Quote #18
"Forgive me Rambert, only—well, I simply don’t know. But stay with us if you want to." A swerve of the care him break off. Then, looking straight in front of him, he said: "For nothing in the world is it worth turning one’s back on what one loves. Yet that is what I’m doing, though I do not know." (4.2.78)
This is Rieux’s predicament. If there are three basic actions – loving, working, and dying – and one must choose between the first two, what’s a doctor to do? Rieux justifies his decision to work by claiming it is his duty, but Rambert’s counter-argument, that he is put on this earth to love a woman more than he is put on this earth to do his job, is tough to get around. Rieux says here that he just doesn’t know, but does he answer the question by the end of the novel?