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Quotes

Quote #37

The first step taken was to bury the dead by night, which obviously permitted a more summary procedure. The bodies were piled into ambulances in larger and larger numbers. And the few belated wayfarers who, in defiance of the regulations, were abroad in the outlying districts after curfew hour, or whose duties took them there, often saw the long white ambulances hurtling past, making the night bound streets reverberate with the dull clangor of their bells. The corpses were tipped pell-mell into the pits and had hardly settled into place when spadefuls of quicklime began to sear their faces and the earth covered them indistinctively, in holes dug steadily deeper as time went on. (3.1.17)

The true disposal of dead bodies is hidden by night to shield the living from the horrors of death. At first.

Quote #38

What with the gunshots echoing at the gates, the punctual thuds of rubber stamps marking the rhythm of lives and deaths, the files and fires, the panics and formalities, all alive were pledged to an ugly but recorded death, and, amidst noxious fumes and the muted clang of ambulances, all of us at the same sour bread of exile, unconsciously waiting for the same reunion, the same miracle of peace regained. (3.1.31)

Death brought by the plague is compared to that of a war zone.

Quote #39

"Yes, yes," he said ,"you, too, are working for man’s salvation."

Rieux tried to smile.

"Salvation’s much too big a word for me. I don’t aim so high. I’m concerned with man’s health; and for me his health comes first. (4.3.57-59)

Paneloux and Rieux are actually aiming for the same end; it’s just that Paneloux gives it an abstract term while Rieux views it concretely.

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