From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

War Imagery

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Oran is quickly made parallel to a war zone after the outbreak of the plague. The mass graves, the militaristic occupation of Oran, and even the "deratization" vehicle that rattles through the town like a machine gun all contribute to the feeling that Oran is at war. Indeed, the narrator often points out that war and pestilence are both uncontrollable, unpredictable aspects of the human condition that bring senseless suffering.

Whether Camus is purposefully creating an allegory about French resistance to the Nazis during WWII (which many believe is true), or whether he is trying to make a more general point, he is nonetheless drawing a parallel between the human suffering imposed by other humans and human suffering that comes from pestilence; both, he says, have the same devastating effects. Rieux’s comment – that we allow suffering to occur because we can not comprehend its magnitude – can definitely be applied to the atrocities of war (in fact, Rieux himself directly compares the two in his famous standing-by-the-window scene).

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement