| Quote #16
Thus the bare statement that three hundred and two deaths had taken place in the third week of plague failed to strike their imagination. For one thing, all the three hundred and two deaths might not have been due to plague. Also, no one in the town had any idea of the average weekly death-rate in ordinary times. The population of the town was almost two hundred thousand. There was no knowing if the present death-rate were really so abnormal. This, in fact, the kind of statistics that nobody ever troubles much about—notwithstanding that its interest is obvious. The public lacked, in short, standards of comparison. It was only as time passed and the steady rise in the death-rate could not be ignored that the public opinions became alive to the truth. (2.2.3)
Facts, numbers, and statistics do little to convey the true humanity of something. This puts to question how a person can best describe the reality of something – especially of suffering – to a person who has not experienced it. Is objectivity really the best way to do this?
| Quote #17
The doctor glanced up at the statue of the Republic, then said he did not know if he was using the language of reason, but he knew he was using the language of the facts as everybody could see them—which wasn’t necessarily the same thing. (2.2.52)
If facts and reason aren’t necessarily the same thing, how are we to read this "factual" account?
| Quote #18
Though he knew little of the literary world, Rieux had a suspicion that things didn’t quite happen in it quite so picturesquely—that, for instance, publishers do not keep their hats on in their offices. But, of course, one never can tell, and Rieux preferred to hold his peace. (2.4.22)
Not sure of what is correct, Rieux holds his tongue rather than speaking.