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Quotes

Quote #13

But these extravagant forebodings dwindled in the light of reason. True, the word "plague" had been uttered; true, at this very moment one or two victims were being seized and laid low by the disease. Still, that could stop, or be stopped. It was only a matter of lucidly recognizing what had to be recognized; of dispelling extraneous shadows and doing what needed to be done. Then the plague would come to an end, because it was unthinkable, or rather, because one thought of it on misleading lines. (1.5.7)

Rieux’s thought that the plague would come to an end as a result of the way men think of it is the complete opposite of objectivity. In fact, he’s going so far as to suggest that the way we think about reality can change reality.

Quote #14

Richard said it was a mistake to paint too gloomy a picture, and, moreover, the disease hadn’t been proved to be contagious; indeed, relatives of his parents, living under the same room, had escaped it.

"It’s not a question of painting too black a picture. It’s a question of taking precautions." (1.7.18-19)

Rieux is more interested in practicality than with correctly identifying the facts. Why, then, is he so concerned with objectivity as he narrates?

Quote #15

"That’s your theory, anyhow. Actually, of course, we know next to nothing on the subject." (1.8.44)

The Plague draws a distinction between theory and knowledge.

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