Study Guide

The Plague Part 1, Chapter 7

By Albert Camus

Part 1, Chapter 7

  • Rieux somehow convinces the authorities to get together at the Prefect’s office and talk about the fact that, hey, everybody’s dying and it’s starting to smell.
  • He gives Dr. Castel a ride there. The man is worried about the fact that they have no anti-plague serum.
  • Rieux reveals that he already sent a message to Paris asking if maybe they had some plague serum lying around somewhere that they could send, you know, as soon as they had some free time.
  • At the meeting, Castel argues that they have to figure out whether or not this is the plague.
  • Actually, he adds, he knows it’s the plague, but if the officials want him to lie about it, he’d be happy to do so (to prevent panic and quarantine, it would seem).
  • Rieux jumps in and adds that he had the pus from a patient analyzed; it is indeed the plague.
  • BUT, there are some subtle differences in the bacteria identified.
  • Either way, Rieux says, everyone has to act now.
  • Richard, on the other hand, is more of a "let’s wait and see" kind of guy.
  • Now this is interesting: Richard asks Rieux to confirm that the word "plague" is absolute correct term. (More about words, see?)
  • Rieux responds that it’s not the word that matters – what matters is that they act quickly before time runs out. "It doesn’t matter […] how you phrase it," he says.
  • After the meeting, a bleeding, plague-ridden woman screams as Rieux drives past and stretches out her arms towards him. Which is clearly a chapter-ending image.