Posts Tagged ‘9/11 and world war II’

The Plague and Allegorical Representation

Summoned to give evidence regarding what was a sort of crime, he has exercised the restraint that behooves a conscientious witness. All the same, following the dictates of his heart, he has deliberately taken the victims’ side and tried to share with his fellow citizens the only certitudes they had in common—love, exile, and suffering. Thus he can truly say there was not one of their anxieties in which he did not share, no predicament of theirs that was not his.

These words, coming toward the end of Albert Camus’ 1948 allegory of German occupation, The Plague, serve as both the revelation of the novel’s narrator* and the mission statement of its author. The Plague is at once a very informative and very misleading title, for the novel is, practically, about a plague that overtakes the Algerian city of Oran. Theoretically, however, the novel is less about disease than about the mental shackles placed on an imprisoned population, with the plague acting as a stand-in for the occupation of France during World War II.**

*Shh…it’s kind of a secret. And I mean “kind of” here literally, in that it’s only “kind of” a secret.

**Funny story: I first read The Plague in high school on my own with no knowledge or inference of its allegory, even though it was pretty explicit upon my re-reading in college. It is a testament to Camus’ abilities as a writer that the novel works regardless.

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