The Plague

Literacy Device DIctionary


Definition: a hint/clue that indicates later events

Thousands and thousands of rats died on the streets of Oran, France, its residents were confused on whether they should panic or simply be worried at the sight of the streets, schools, shops, and homes filled with rotting rats. Everyone was bewildered on the reasoning behind the large quantities of rodent death. Every day the number of deaths increase, until it became out of control. Eventually the inevitable happened, and "[They] announced that 8,000 rats had been collected, a wave of something like panic swept the town." (Camnus 17). The deaths of the diseased rodents foreshadows their disease spreading to people of the city.

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Definition: A dramatic work that presents the downfall of a dignified character

During Michael's illness, the doctor never thought it would be deadly. His wife brought the doctor to him weeks before his death, and no one knew weeks later, he would die of this unidentifiable disease. No one thought his death would the first of many and that "Michael's death marked the end of the first period... the perplexity of the early day gradually gave place to panic." (Camnus 23). His death was tragic, and it caused panic to circulate all throughout the town. People started to think it was all because of the rats and that it would spread. The worried people of the town were were right in their thinking; he death was the first of many.

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Definition: a composition in which an idea or a thing is compared to another thing that is quite different from it

The townsfolk were correct when they considered Cottard strange, but some went to extremes by saying "Cottard is a queer bird." (Camus 89)). They people always thought of him as the weird outsider of the town that only came in when he need food or other necessities. They compared him to a bird because like a bird he would always keep a safe distance away from "danger" and called him queer because he was different and apparently they don't like different.

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Definition: a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance

Many of the inhabitants of the town were gradually increasing in anger of the illness and what it made the town become. The few people that weren't infected were spending their lives around the ill and hating every second of it. They started felling as if "A tranquility so casual and thoughtless seemed almost effortlessly to give the lie to those old pictures of the plague: Chinese towns cluttered up with victims silent in their agony." (Camnus 271). They began to compare how they were living to cramped, confined places.

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Definition: a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities

Cottard begins as a fearful man, scared of just about everything. He lived remotely for his security and was a strange man the towns people would say "Cottard's a queer bird." (Camnus 87). They were weirded out because he was such a fearful person, people almost began to fear him, but when the plague happened he was just fine. When everyone else was terrified it almost make him calm and at peace.

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Dynamic Character

Definition: a character who undergoes a change of personality or traits

Cottard was know as being a strange person, and many people tried to avoid him as much as possible because he was so different from everyone else. He also was know as a depressed scared person. Because of his differences, no one wanted to talk to him. No matter all of his efforts, people wouldn't talk to him. He was nice and "In the streets, in the shops, he was always trying to strike up friendship." (Camus 124), but no one would be interested in him. Eventually he became scared of talking to people and he added it to the list of the many things he was scared of. Cottard completely changed as a person when the plague happened; he was outgoing again, whether or not people returned the favor or not, and he wasn't scared of anything. It seemed almost as if he always felt and did the opposite of the other people in the town.

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Definition: a reoccurring thought or idea

The people of Oran tried to manipulate themselves into believing their own made up ideas to morph the plague into something bearable. They told themselves "That what was happening was a sort of accident, disagreeable enough, but certainly a temporary order,." (Camus 167). Through out the book they try and try and try to blind themselves from the horrible truth of the plague's existence.

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Comic Relief

Cottard was also much of a comic relief to the book he could be quite clumsy when he ventured into town and they considered him quite the advocate to make fun of. When they talked about him they would say "Cottard is queer bird" (Camus 67). They liked to make that kind of a nick name because he was so weird but sometimes they would make a joke out of it.
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