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The bad news is, people are still dying, which makes it hard to revel in the fact that fewer people are dying now than before.
The big deal, however, is that hope has come back to town.
The narrator compares the plague to an athlete in at deuce in the fifth set; it’s super-tired, but it has the occasional burst of energy here and there.
Castel’s anti-plague serums are finally starting to work.
M. Othon, clearly "ill-starred," dies. Tarrou cryptically comments that the man "had no luck," but the narrator isn’t sure if he’s talking about the man’s life or his death.
Continuing in the vein of optimism set by Tarrou, the narrator says that this isn’t so much a victory for the side of man. It seems more like the plague did what it came to do, dusted itself off, and said, "OK, I’m out."
People’s attitudes are fluctuating. At times one can sense elation, at times severe depression. And there are always those people who have become "allergic to hope" in all forms; they’re still trying to escape Oran.
Life starts to get back to normal; while shortages are still clearly a problem, prices fall.
On January 25, the authorities announce that the plague is officially receding. (It’s been receding for a bit, but considering how long it took them to acknowledge its existence in the first place, we aren’t exactly surprised.)
The gates are remaining closed for another two weeks, however. Just to be safe.
Continued measures aside, the town gets its party on. Well, except for those who have a family member currently in the throes of the plague.
Tarrou, Rieux, and Rambert can’t help but recognize these latter citizens of Oran, those who stay behind closed shutters while everyone else rocks out in the streets.
Still, Tarrou smiles when he sees a cat (AWOL for months now) skittering across the street – the old man will be happy, as he now has something to spit on. This cheers Tarrou considerably.