| Quote #19
If only he could put the clock back and be once more the man who, at the outbreak of the epidemic, had had only one thought and one desire: to escape and return to the woman he loved! But that, he knew, was out of the question now; he had changed too greatly. The plague had forced on him a detachment which, try as he might, he couldn’t think away, and which like a formless fear haunted his mind. Almost he though the plague had ended too abruptly, he hadn’t had time to pull himself together. Happiness was bearing down on him full speed, the event outrunning expectation. Rambert understood that all would be restored to him in a flash, and joy break on him like a flame with which there is no dallying. (5.4.5)
This gets back to Rieux’s hardened-heart predicament. Rambert now has to shake off his indifference – and quickly – before his "wife" returns. It would seem here that the conditions needed to survive the plague are NOT the conditions needed to function in the regular world, which puts quite the contradictory kink in the argument that The Plague is a lesson in day-to-day living.
| Quote #20
They knew now that if there is one thing one can always yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love. (5.4.14)
Love is the one thing people can strive for in an indifferent world. This is meant neither to be uplifting nor condemning – it simply is.
| Quote #21
All the same, following the dictates of his heart, he has deliberately taken the victims’ side and tried to share with his fellow citizens the only certitudes they had in common—love, exile, and suffering. (5.5.2)
Just as the citizens of Oran were made similar by their suffering and isolation, so too can they find camaraderie in the common sentiment of love.