The word “plague” is spoken for the first time in today’s pages. So interesting to see Rieux wrestling with his own consciousness, calming himself down, talking himself out of his darkest thoughts, all filtered through the narrator who knows everything that is about to happen. I’m struck by the talk of the historical plagues – that amazing list of ancient images that run through Rieux’s head – and the comparison between a “known” death and a statistic. Rieux attempting to imagine what 10k dead looks like (“five times the audience in a large theater”). “When one has fought a war, one hardly knows any more what a dead person is. And if a dead man has no significance unless one has seen him dead, a hundred million bodies spread through history are just a mist drifting through the human imagination.” This feels so very relevant to today, as more of us in today’s moment come to know the personal toll of our current plague, and see the conversation shifting back and forth between the personal and the statistical. And Rieux’s conclusion seems one that many healthcare providers are also, I imagine, finding comfort in, when they can: “This was certainty: everyday work. The rest hang by threads and imperceptible movements; one could not dwell on it.”
FOR TOMORROW: read next 7 or so pages, ending with “…was turning her face to him.”
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