The Plague Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Tarrou agreed that he’d predicated a disaster, but reminded him that the event predicted by him was an earthquake. To which the old fellow replied: "Ah, if only it had been an earthquake! A good bad shock, and there you are! You count the dead and living, and that’s an end of it. But this here damned disease—even them who haven’t got it can’t think of anything else. (2.6.8)
It looks like the mental defeat caused by the plague is worse than the physical defeat (i.e., death).
"And I, too, am no different. But what matter? Death means nothing to men like me. It is the event that proves them right." (2.6.31)
Tarrou declares that death is meaningless, but that that very conclusion is only confirmed by the act of dying, which is not so great, especially since you can’t gloat about your victory (because you’re dead). Not only does this eventually prove true in Tarrou’s own death, but Rieux recognizes and comments on that fact at the end of the novel.
"And then I had to see people die. Do you know that there are some people who refuse to die? Have you ever witnessed a woman scream "Never!" with her last gasp? Well, I have. And then I saw that I could never get hardened to it." (2.7.63)
Interestingly, it is the determination of man in his struggle against death that hits home for Rieux.