| Quote #13
Ten thousand dead made about five times the audience in a biggish cinema. Yes, that was how it should be done. You should collect the people at the exits of five picture-houses, you should lead them to a city square and make them die in heaps if you wanted to get a clear notion of what it means. Then at least you could add some familiar faces to the anonymous mass. But naturally that was impossible to put into practice; moreover, what man knows ten thousand faces? (1.5.5)
This is an essential humanist problem: how to care about man when it’s too easy to make him into an idea instead of a being? Even more difficult, how to care about death when you don’t individually know those who are dying? If suffering can not effectively be communicated through language, then Dr. Rieux’s narration is doomed to fail in its attempts to express his experiences.
| Quote #14
On leaving Cottard the doctor noticed that he was thinking of Grand, trying to picture him in the midst of an outbreak of plague—not an outbreak like the present one which would probably not prove serious, but like one of the great visitations of the past. "He’s the kind of man who always escapes in such cases." Rieux remembered having read somewhere that the plague spared weak constitutions and chose its victims chiefly among the robust. (1.6.19)
Rieux thinks that Grand will survive the plague because he is insignificant. Yes, this is irrational, but hey, so is an existential world.
| Quote #15
"There," Castel said, "I don’t agree with you. These little brutes always have an air of originality. But, at bottom, it’s always the same thing." (1.8.43)
Castel is referring to different strains of the plague. All these varieties of pestilence, he argues, are really the same thing, probably because of the common death they cause. This is similar to the way humans are rendered equal by their common mortality.