The Plague by Albert Camus is an insightful work of fiction that explores a community in North Africa in the 1940’s infected by and then quarantined due to an outbreak of the plague. Our narrator is an impartial witness to the outbreak, taking us through the anger, fear, loneliness, and suffering of many in the town. As the city descends into the sickness, many find themselves cut-off from their family members and lovers who had left the town before the outbreak. Hundreds and thousands are dying, and the community must cope with the overwhelming dead to be buried and the increasing space needed for hospitals and quarantine barracks. The doctors feel helpless, and the clergy must try to explain this human suffering.
Camus’ The Plague is an allegory for the Nazi Occupation of France during World War II. Through the emotions and actions of his fictional city, he expresses the themes of resilience in the face of suffering, and the value of life. The lack of an exact time and place allows the reader to see many other historical events, times, and places in it’s themes, and allows The Plague to remain relevant today.
Those looking for a quick, exciting plot will not find it in this book. It’s pace reflects the stagnant lives of those quarantined by the plague, and the internal battles they must fight within themselves. Each day is the same in this town, only things become more desperate, more die, and each person wonders if they will be next.