The Plague Questions and Answers
by Albert Camus

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What are the social and personal changes in times of cholera--the plague--depicted in The Plague by Camus?

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We can link this answer to the literary movement called absurdism, of which this text is a prime example. This movement points out the meaningless nature of life. We can see how this movement is reflected in the way that the citizens of the town react to their exile and being separated from their loved ones. The citizens are shown to feel like prisoners as they can only look to the past and cannot look to the future with any hope because they have no idea for how long they will be trapped in their town. They find that they become cut of from one another, and are unable to express their emotions to each other, and their conversations become centred around daily trifles.

The theme of exile also points towards the way in which Camus was writing at a time when there was intense scrutiny about the value of human life and its purpose. The allegorical nature of this text establishes a parallel between the human condition and the experience of these citizens. Just as the citizens were exiled from life, so too at this were various thinkers beginning to lose the belief that they lived in a rational universe that had some system of order behind it. The idea that life was about finding some kind of meaning and fulfilling desires was being lost, and Camus expressed this change in the personal condition of humans in this text through the sense of abandonment and the identity of the citizens as exiles in a world that had changed for them utterly.

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