| Quote #22
For who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment of human suffering? (4.4.9)
Father Paneloux isn’t going to get out of this one without struggling. He refuses to write off Jacques’s death as justified by the afterlife, and instead will face the music and address what it means for God to have allowed – perhaps to have wanted – an innocent child to suffer.
| Quote #23
At last, at daybreak on a fine February morning, the ceremonial opening of the gates took place, acclaimed by the populace, the newspapers, the radio, and official communiqués. It only remains for the narrator to give what account he can of the rejoicings that followed, though he himself was one of those debarred from sharing in them wholeheartedly. (5.4.1)
Rieux has learned what the other citizens have not; the plague has raised his consciousness of others’ suffering.
| Quote #24
All the same, following the dictates of his heart, he has deliberately taken the victims’ side and tried to share with his fellow citizens the only certitudes they had in common—love, exile, and suffering. (5.5.2)
Everyone in The Plague feels suffering in common: common suffering defines one aspect of the human condition.