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Literature Study GuidesThe PlaguePart 2 Chapter 13 Summary

The Plague | Study Guide

Albert Camus

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The Plague | Part 2, Chapter 13 | Summary



Rambert is not rushing the gates, but he has been trying everything he can think of to get the authorities to let him leave town. He makes the argument that his case is exceptional, but the authorities point out that there are plenty of others with the same problem, so he is not exceptional at all. He does learn a lot about the "inner workings of a municipal office and a Prefect's headquarters," however. When Rambert's not calling people and filling out forms and trying to figure out how to get out of the city, he wanders listlessly around town—to cafes, lonely streets, and the train station—and thinks about his lover.


Rambert's attempts to escape the city are laborious, logical, and persistent, as he struggles through the red tape of the town government. This is presented as a contrast to the panicked headlong rush of those who try to escape the gates by the brute force of fear. However, as the narrator points out, Rambert's greater "skill and persistence" does not equate to greater success. Skill is irrelevant, persistence is irrelevant, and logic is irrelevant. Everyone in town is equally trapped; no one is exceptional. This echoes the complete indifference of the plague in how it chooses victims: the old, the young, the rich, the poor, the virtuous, and the criminal can all succumb to the plague. And it increases the novel's tension, embodied in the central question, "what, then, is the correct response to an illogical, impersonal fate?"

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