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Free Study Guide-The Plague by Albert Camus-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

PART III

Summary

In the intense heat of mid-August, Oran reaches the height of its crisis. With the plague running rampant and exterminating lives with efficiency, certain sections of the town are cordoned off and segregated as more dangerous. Martial law and curfews are imposed. Many people burn down their houses in the hope of killing off the plague to spare their lives. As a result, fire sometimes burns out of control. There are also so many deaths that there are mass burials. In the midst of the holocaust, most of the remaining citizens have come to accept their deprivation and confinement as part of an inevitable destiny. They no longer think like individuals but as part of a suffering, collective whole.


Separation from the outside world continues to be a great source of distress for the citizens of Oran. Without outside interaction, the monotony of life is almost unbearable. In addition, the most basic necessities are now hard to obtain, and the people begin to feel like prisoners of war. Separated from loved ones outside of Oran, they find it difficult to picture their faces. Everyone is despondent as they mourn their losses; they seem to be wasting away emotionally.

Notes

It is clear that Oran is fully in the clutch of the plague. To control the situation, curfews and martial law are imposed. The people are too numb to react. They have become so accustomed to pain and deprivation and so despondent over their situation that they passively accept their fate and become immune to the mass burials.

On the allegorical level, it is clear that Camus is comparing Oran to the countries occupied by the Nazis during World War II. In both cases, the citizens are imprisoned and made to suffer all sorts of deprivation. Many people are routinely and efficiently exterminated, and mass burials become commonplace. Those who continue to exist in the midst of both holocausts waste away emotionally. Separated from loved ones, they can no longer picture their faces. It is obvious that both the plague and the Nazis break the human spirit. Since Camus was in France during the war, separated from his family in Algeria, he knows first hand the pain of suffering and deprivation.

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