| Quote #13
And indeed as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightenment of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city. (5.5.43)
Unlike much of Oran, Rieux has learned from his experiences. Since he cannot depend on the future for improvement or even consistency, he knows to live with the constant knowledge that his life may at any point be taken from him. Interestingly, this was the condition of the plague that everyone else believes they have escaped. The passing of time, then, is as great a threat as the plague.