Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #19

"Is he a saint?" Tarrou asked himself, and answered: "Yes, if saintliness is an aggregate of habits." (2.6.22)

Tarrou seems to think that all statements must be qualified with an "if." Something is only true based on the conditional provision of something else. How does that fit with the narrator’s claims of objectivity?

Quote #20

It is Tarrou once again who paints the most faithful picture of our life in those days. Needless to say, he outlines the progress of the plague and he, too, notes that a new phase of the epidemic was ushered in when the radio announced no longer weekly totals, but ninety-two, a hundred and seven, and a hundred and thirty deaths in a day. (2.6.6)

The narrator thinks Tarrou paints the "most faithful picture" – yet that is subjective opinion, even while the narrator tries to make it seem objective through concrete numbers of daily deaths.

Quote #21

"Paneloux is a man of learning, a scholar. He hasn’t come in contact with death; that’s why he can speak with such assurance of the truth—with a capital T. But every country priest who visits his parishioners and has heard a man gasping for breath on his deathbed thinks as I do. He’d try to relieve human suffering before trying to point out its excellence." (2.7.50)

Paneloux has his opinion about "truth" because he has not experienced the range of life and humanity; Dr. Rieux has seen death and suffering and so is better equipped to discuss it. How then, is the reader supposed to understand the "truth with a capital T" about Oran if we have not experienced such matters ourselves?

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