Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 16, 2020

At the end of part one (apologies for the missed post yesterday!) we have a very interesting conversation between Rambert, Tarrou, and the doctor. Rambert, who is still trying to escape the town, says he’s “‘had enough of people who die for ideas…What interests [him] is living or dying for what one loves.'” Rieux answers him, in a statement so important for our moment: “‘Man is not an idea.'” Rieux argues that the only way to fight the plague is through “decency,” and that in his case decency consists in doing his job. I appreciate the way the doctor makes clear that acts of decency are not the same for each of us, though the overlaying category stands. It is the collective decency, all of us acting together in tandem from wherever we are, that is our greatest weapon. “…The epidemic was everybody’s business and they all had to do their duty.”

FOR TOMORROW: Read first 7 pages of Part III, into second section, ending with Rieux’s statement “‘No one can deny that we’ve made progress.'”

One thought on “Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 16, 2020

  1. Patricia D.

    Heads up on a translation issue: in English – common decency; in French l’honnetete = a quality that conforms to honor,to moral law. It is not a question of heroism.. This reflects cultural differences. In Europe, fighting with honor, for honor was viewed as essential and Dr. R does so by doing what he is called to do.
    My older brother, a retired cardiologist now living in Colorado, has returned to service, even though he is over 65 and has a co-morbid condition because he thinks it is “common decency” to repond to those in need. He just re-read the Plague and is impressed.


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