Suffering is paramount in The Plague. We watch how characters react to, cope with, and learn from hardship. This last one is particularly important; one character goes so far as to cite suffering as his greatest teacher. So what do we learn, exactly, besides the helpful tidbit that we should always have anti-plague serum lying around? That the world is indifferent to the ceaseless and irrational suffering of man. The solution presented by The Plague is that, even knowing that it is a losing battle, we must fight against suffering, fight on the side of mankind.
Questions About Suffering
- How does Father Paneloux try to justify suffering, and how does the novel refute his argument?
- What purpose does suffering serve in the plague?
- How does the fear of suffering increase suffering?
- In what ways do the people of Oran cope with their suffering? Are any of these effective? Are any even more destructive?
- If suffering is inevitable, than why does Camus argue that we should fight against it?
Chew on This
The citizens of Oran suffer as much before and after the plague as they do during it; the only difference is that they are aware of their suffering during the outbreak.
While suffering can not ever be justified in The Plague, it can still be beneficial.