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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
PART II, SECTION 6
The scorching heat and summer wind cause the epidemic to worsen. On the ninety-fourth day of the plague, there are one hundred and twenty-four deaths. The survivors wait in long lines to purchase vanishing necessities. Many people reach a stage of panic and react with lunatic disturbances; others become hedonistic and make lavish expenditures; and some people, such as M. Othon and the "cat hunter," continue living as usual.
Calamity makes people live on edge and react in odd ways. Some become hedonistic and make lavish purchases; others panic and act like lunatics; and a few cling to their habitual ways, indifferent to the suffering around them. Everyone becomes suspicious of others and avoids contact with other people, fearing that they will be exposed to the plague.
The conditions in Oran are reflective of the conditions in Europe during World War II. Both experience shortages and long lines to purchase the most basic of necessities. Both experience suspicion of others and avoid human contact, fearing the enemy. Both feel miserable with their lack of freedom and question whether God is dead.
PART II, SECTION 7
The serum sent from Paris becomes less effective, and the pneumonic form of the plague sets in. The pain and suffering become more acute. Although the authorities are understaffed, they are unable to enlist any voluntary help, for people grow more afraid of coming into contact with others. When Tarrou proposes to mobilize a unit of volunteers, Rieux wonders why he is willing to take such a risk, but he agrees to clear the formalities for him.
Tarrou and Rieux discuss Father Panelouxís sermon. Tarrou considers it as thought provoking, but Rieux claims that a disease, such as the plague, is neither a punishment nor a cleansing. Since Paneloux is a scholar, rather than a parish priest, he is out of touch with human suffering and does not know how to handle it. Rieux also says that he cannot rely on Godís help in fighting the plague; instead he must do everything possible to medically fight the disease and relieve the suffering that he sees. Tarrou says that his reasons for wanting to help are based on his moral code of "comprehension."
Things worsen in Oran. The plague has become resistant to the serum sent from Paris and develops into the pneumonic form. The suffering grows more acute. All of the townís officials and medical personnel, especially Dr. Rieux, feel exhausted and understaffed.
In this section, Rieux reveals that he is a practical and realistic man. He cannot accept that the plague is meant to be Godís punishment or means of cleansing, as Father Paneloux has preached; instead, he asserts the sanctity of life and the need to preserve it against suffering and disease. He is not content to rely on Godís help alone and does everything he can to fight the plague and relive the suffering that he sees. Because of his practicality, Rieux is surprised that Tarrou has offered to help, for it will put him at risk. Tarrou, however, is determined to find and organize a group of volunteers. His task will not be easy, for the people of Oran are hesitant to come in contact with others out of fear of contracting the plague. Both Rieux and Tarrou believe it is very important to do oneís duty even if it is an eternal struggle without the reward of a victory; they believe that one must do whatever possible to preserve life.