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by Albert Camus
The Plague Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary
Rieux somehow convinces the authorities to get together at the Prefect’s office and talk about the fact that, hey, everybody’s dying and it’s starting to smell. He gives Dr. Castel a ride there. The man is worried about the fact that they have no anti-plague serum. Rieux reveals that he already sent a message to Paris asking if maybe they had some plague serum lying around somewhere that they could send, you know, as soon as they had some free time. At the meeting, Castel argues that they have to figure out whether or not this is the plague. Actually, he adds, he knows it’s the plague, but if the officials want him to lie about it, he’d be happy to do so (to prevent panic and quarantine, it would seem). Rieux jumps in and adds that he had the pus from a patient analyzed; it is indeed the plague. BUT, there are some subtle differences in the bacteria identified. Either way, Rieux says, everyone has to act now. Richard, on the other hand, is more of a "let’s wait and see" kind of guy. Now this is interesting: Richard asks Rieux to confirm that the word "plague" is absolute correct term. (More about words, see?) Rieux responds that it’s not the word that matters – what matters is that they act quickly before time runs out. "It doesn’t matter […] how you phrase it," he says. After the meeting, a bleeding, plague-ridden woman screams as Rieux drives past and stretches out her arms towards him. Which is clearly a chapter-ending image.
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