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The Plague

The Plague


by Albert Camus

M. Othon Timeline and Summary

  • Dr. Rieux runs into police magistrate M. Othon and his son on the train platform; they discuss the dead rats.
  • Tarrou observes a family with an owlish father and poodle children that is later revealed to be M. Othon and his family.
  • Despite the plague, M. Othon continues to dress well and appear for formal dinners every evening.
  • While Cottard and Rambert are standing on a shady street corner somewhere trying not to look shady and talking to Tarrou and Rieux (both in Rieux’s car), M. Othon comes strolling along.
  • The other four men diffuse the situation, and Othon leaves.
  • Tarrou declares Othon "Enemy Number One."
  • At the end of October, M. Othon’s son is treated unsuccessfully for the plague and dies.
  • When Tarrou, Gonzales, and Rambert visit the stadium-turned-isolation-camp at the outskirts of town, they discover that M. Othon is the manager.
  • He inquires about the death of his son Jacques and whether the child suffered very much before he passed away.
  • Tarrou lies to Othon, telling him that no, his son didn’t suffer.
  • After Othon leaves, Tarrou expresses sympathy for the man, but doesn’t think there is any way to help a man who makes a living as a judge.
  • M. Othon sends a letter to Dr. Rieux, revealing that he’s been kept too long in quarantine because of some sort of clerical error.
  • Dr. Rieux fixes the situation, outraged that a man who just lost his son was treated so carelessly.
  • Othon, on the other hand, shrugs it off with a "people make mistakes" sort of attitude.
  • He then reveals to Rieux that, actually, he wants to go back to the quarantine camp as a volunteer – it makes him feel closer to his dead son.
  • Just as the plague is receding, M. Othon contracts the disease and dies.
  • Tarrou remarks that he truly was a man of "no luck," but the narrator wonders aloud (now that we know of Tarrou’s past) if Tarrou is referring to the man’s death or his life.