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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

What is the story told in the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice? What is the significance of the episode in which Tarrou and Rambert attend a performance of Gluck’s opera, Orpheus and Eurydice?

Research the history of Vichy France, from 1940 to 1944. What were the goals of the French leaders, such as Pierre Laval, who openly collaborated with the Germans? How did they justify their actions?

Reread the first chapter of The Plague, in which Rieux describes the town of Oran and its people. Is Rieux really as objective a narrator as he claims to be? What are his main criticisms of Oran’s citizens? How does the epidemic change their attitudes?

Why does the narrator say, in Part II, that the “true embodiment of the quiet courage that inspired the sanitary groups” was not himself or Tarrou but Grand? In what sense is Grand a hero?

Imagine a debate between a modern-day Father Paneloux and Dr. Rieux or Tarrou over the modern plague of AIDS. What might each man say and do in response to the epidemic?