Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 23, 2020

Rieux and his colleagues, including the priest, witness the terrible death from plague of a young child. Rieux, in his exhaustion and grief, argues with the priest, who still believes that the plague is punishment for sin: “that one, at least, was innocent, as you very well know!” These pages are very interesting – Camus writes of how “superstition” and “prophecies” have taken the place of religion for many townspeople, these prophecies read with “as much eagerness as the love stories” found in newspapers “in times of health.” This resonated, as so many of us search the news for definitive projections of how this will all end, and so many people put forth theories and plans – both careful and reckless – to move forward. The priest, it seems, has been both changed and not by what he has witnessed; looking forward to discussing with you all the way Camus contrasts his second sermon with his first. 

FOR TOMORROW: Read to the end of section 4 in Part IV. 

3 thoughts on “Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 23, 2020

  1. Anne C.

    I am thinking that this dialogue between Rieux and Paneloux is highlighting the irreconcilable debate between science and religion – how the first questions and seeks answers and the other simply accepts. In my translation Paneloux says “Ah, doctor…I’ve just realized what is meant by “grace’.” I am intrigued by that choice of word – I though he would say “faith”. Rieux responds that this is something he hasn’t got. What do others make of this?


  2. Patricia D.

    In French the word grace has serveral meanings – here I think it refers to God’s help to achieve salvation. In French salut (salvation) means saving a person from eternal damnation. Dr. R does not “have this” instead he trusts his medical training and his worn leather black bag filled with serums and crude tools.

    I felt like Dr. R while reading this heart-rending passage describing in horrible death of the boy. Helpless and hopeless.
    Camus’ writing style is like wathcing a movie. HIs choice of words, unlike Grand’s, without hesitation and precise.


  3. Anne C.

    That makes sense – the idea that Rieux does not believe that God redeems or saves…clearly he did not save this little boy. I have grown so accustomed to the surprise “Hollywood” ending I kept expecting the child’s fever to break and that the serum would work and save him. Not to be expected from Camus. The movie he is giving us is a dark, human tragedy.


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