Literature Study GuidesThe PlaguePart 5 Chapter 28 Summary

The Plague | Study Guide

Albert Camus

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The Plague | Part 5, Chapter 28 | Summary

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Summary

Tarrou comes down with plague symptoms, and Dr. Rieux does not want to quarantine him. In defiance of normal procedures, Dr. Rieux himself, assisted by his mother, keeps watch over Tarrou through the night, and in the morning Tarrou seems better. However, as is typical of plague patients, he quickly declines and dies after this last rally. Dr. Rieux feels defeated by this loss, as if he will never be at peace. He reflects on that nature of love, language, knowledge, and Tarrou's goal of saintliness.

The following day, Dr. Rieux finds out his wife has died. He considers how his suffering is the "self-same suffering" he has seen all these months. It has been going on forever and will continue.

Analysis

Tarrou's death is a contrast to the death of Father Paneloux, who succumbed to death without a struggle, essentially just giving up life because of his faith crisis. Tarrou, rather, intends to fight; if he loses, he at least wants to "make a good end of it." Tarrou's death also provides a look at his friendship with Dr. Rieux, who encourages Tarrou to live by telling him that the only way to be a saint is to live (in contrast to becoming a Christian saint, which can only happen after one is dead). Dr. Rieux has not been excited about Tarrou's quest for sainthood, and so this concession is an act of friendship. Dr. Rieux also shows his friendship with Tarrou by refusing to follow the normal procedures for treating plague (quarantine) and by telling him the truth about his chances.

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