Literature Study GuidesThe PlaguePart 5 Chapter 30 Summary

The Plague | Study Guide

Albert Camus

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The Plague | Part 5, Chapter 30 | Summary

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Summary

Dr. Bernard Rieux confesses that he is the narrator, explaining that he talked to many different people during the plague and so had a broader view of events that allowed him to be objective.

Dr. Rieux visits Cottard's part of town and encounters policemen, who warn him about a man with a gun. Grand is also nearby and gets the same warning. They hear shots and see a man with a gun in the window of Cottard's home. A shot fired out of the window hits a passing dog, which dies, and Grand recognizes the shooter as Cottard. Cottard is arrested, and Grand and Rieux have a chat. Grand says he was finally able to write a letter to his wife and has made some more headway on his sentence.

Dr. Rieux then visits his asthmatic patient and goes outside onto the terrace, where he watches people celebrating. He thinks about those who died and decides to write down his experiences so that they will not be forgotten. He ends by reminding readers that plague, or things like plague, never go away forever.

Analysis

This chapter provides some closure to the stories of Grand and Cottard. Cottard cannot take part in the celebrations, because he attached himself to the thing that brought suffering to all his neighbors. His sense of belonging to a community was fleeting, because it was not founded on "comprehension" or doing one's duty, but on selfish ignorance. Grand, who Dr. Rieux called the "hero" of the story, heroically plunges back into attempts to write his book.

Dr. Rieux and his asthmatic patient find some common ground in this final chapter. The asthmatic man says that "plague" is just "life," suggesting that life is full of "plagues" or that, since life ultimately leads to death, life itself is just a plague that can take many years to become fatal. Dr. Rieux says much the same things as he discusses his reasons for writing his account of the plague. He says they did not win a final victory over the plague, but only did what needed to be done. The plague could return at any time, because plagues and the suffering they cause are inevitable.

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