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The Plague Time Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stuart Gilbert's translation.

Quote #1

For example, after describing how the discovery of a dead rat led the hotel cashier to make an error in his bill, Tarrou added: "Query: How contrive not to waste one’s time? Answer: By being fully aware of it all the while. Ways in which this can be done: By spending one’s days on an uneasy chair in the dentist’s waiting room; by remaining on one’s balcony all a Sunday afternoon; by listening to the lectures in a language one doesn’t know; by traveling the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course by standing all the way; by lining up at the box office of theaters and then not buying a seat; and so forth. (1.3.20)

The activities Tarrou describes aren’t terribly different from those of the people he condemns. The difference, however, lies in the level of consciousness obtained by a given person. By being aware, Tarrou argues, one can give meaning to any action.

Quote #2

When a war breaks out, people say: "It is too stupid; it can’t last long." But though a war may well be "too stupid," that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so wrapped up in ourselves. (1.5.2)

Here the narrator takes the absurdist’s side. People try to understand the passing of time according to reason, but they are wrong to assume any sort of rational meaning lies in the process. Rather, the narrator asserts, the passing of time lacks all logic, therefore stupid events can last for ages.

Quote #3

Looking from his window at the town, outwardly quite unchanged, the doctor felt little more than a faint qualm for the future, a vague unease. (1.5.4)

Rieux knows that terrible events are about to pass; yet he feels no more than a "vague unease." The doctor repeatedly suffers from an inability to comprehend reality.

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