Study Guide

The Plague Part 5, Chapter 1

By Albert Camus

Part 5, Chapter 1

  • The good news is, the plague is indeed receding.
  • The bad news is, people are still dying, which makes it hard to revel in the fact that fewer people are dying now than before.
  • The big deal, however, is that hope has come back to town.
  • The narrator compares the plague to an athlete in at deuce in the fifth set; it’s super-tired, but it has the occasional burst of energy here and there.
  • Castel’s anti-plague serums are finally starting to work.
  • M. Othon, clearly "ill-starred," dies. Tarrou cryptically comments that the man "had no luck," but the narrator isn’t sure if he’s talking about the man’s life or his death.
  • Continuing in the vein of optimism set by Tarrou, the narrator says that this isn’t so much a victory for the side of man. It seems more like the plague did what it came to do, dusted itself off, and said, "OK, I’m out."
  • People’s attitudes are fluctuating. At times one can sense elation, at times severe depression. And there are always those people who have become "allergic to hope" in all forms; they’re still trying to escape Oran.
  • Life starts to get back to normal; while shortages are still clearly a problem, prices fall.
  • On January 25, the authorities announce that the plague is officially receding. (It’s been receding for a bit, but considering how long it took them to acknowledge its existence in the first place, we aren’t exactly surprised.)
  • The gates are remaining closed for another two weeks, however. Just to be safe.
  • Continued measures aside, the town gets its party on. Well, except for those who have a family member currently in the throes of the plague.
  • Tarrou, Rieux, and Rambert can’t help but recognize these latter citizens of Oran, those who stay behind closed shutters while everyone else rocks out in the streets.
  • Still, Tarrou smiles when he sees a cat (AWOL for months now) skittering across the street – the old man will be happy, as he now has something to spit on. This cheers Tarrou considerably.