In class, our teacher often asks stimulating questions, usually open-ended, to encourage a greater analysis of the text. For instance, he asked us to consider in what ways we get sick? What are the meanings we can derive from sickness and suffering? What lessons can we learn? And so on.
As I reflected on his questions, I realized the parallels between the events in The Plague and the current pandemic. The plague devastates the town of Oran, where the story is set. It also has a dire impact on those not directly afflicted by the disease. As the town’s citizens struggle to cope, there‘s a collective loss of control and a sense of urgency to live in the moment. We see this playing out now in real life. We observe how an outbreak can provoke a shared panic and fear among the masses. And we witness how much we have in common with others as we learn to cope with isolation and uncertainty.