The Plague Questions and Answers
by Albert Camus

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In The Plague, did Rieux's wife pass away from the plague while she was in the sanatorium or other causes?

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We are never told exactly what Rieux’s young wife dies of, but her departure for a sanatorium at the very start of the story suggests that maybe she is suffering from tuberculosis or some similar ailment. It was common practice in the earlier years of the twentieth century for people suffering from such illnesses to remove to sanatoriums.

It is unlikely that Rieux’s wife would have contracted plague in the clinically clean conditions of a sanatorium, and besides this particular outbreak is shown to be more or less confined to the town of Oran, which she has left behind. Another factor that makes it unlikely to be plague is that the plague victims usually die within a matter of days, whereas Rieux’s wife dies about ten...

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