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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.