The thoughtful writings of past are often written so thoroughly that they are applicable even today. One such writing The Plague was written to narrate the fictional plague incidence that is painted to have taken place in 1940. The event was a panic for the people in the story. Albert Camus, the author suggests that human sufferings are often too horrible that the survival of the community is at stake. The labor class is normally the one most affected by the epidemics, disasters and other tragedies. The novel can be discussed and applied to the today's world in five parts. The five parts of the novel have different applications for today.
The paper investigates main elements of the novel The Plague by Albert Camus to relate it to the 21st century's plague of racism and to find out how this plague can be fought.
The first part of the novel deals with the growth of problem and how was it noticed. The most visionary people are those that see the problem coming well ahead of time and take or device the action to solve the problem. This happened to Dr. Bernard too. He identified that a fellow died of fever that could be connected to the death of thousands of rats in the town of Oran. Like it happens even today, it is considered that the one indicating the problem is the problem himself and that his dismissal will solve the problem. Thus, Dr. Bernard and his fellows in the novel are dismissed for saying that there might be a plague. And when the epidemic grows, the town accepts the fact and then plans to take the action.
The novel is applicable in terms of defining the attitude of people that avoid the problem until there is no escape but to accept it. There is a lesson in the novel that accepting the reality well in time might save people from a greater degree of loss. The late a fact is accepted, lesser is the chance for improvement. The community in the novel did not notice that the dying rats could lead to an epidemic and they did not take sufficient initiatives. What they did was counterproductive i.e. collecting dead rats. Hence, responding to a problem is not enough but the society needs to understand what should be the response towards the problem.
One such plague of the 21st century is the racism. People see and understand that there is a huge population disparity based on the races and that we might be suffering a lot from it in the future yet there are no enough measures taken against the racism. While organizations are playing a reasonable role by hiring people without any discrimination against races, yet there are many less visible forms of racism in practice that might be more fatal.
The lesson learnt from the first part is that negative or positive, the changes in environment should be anticipated and people should behave in such a manner to avoid the upcoming disasters and to foresee upcoming opportunities. The part one should also teach us that the plague of racism will be disastrous one day if not properly dealt well in time.
In the second part of "The Plague," the town is sealed and no one was allowed to leave the town. All the means of communication were halted except the telephones for the urgent calls. This creates an atmosphere of despair in the town. People make plans to leave the town for seeing their loved ones. Also some opportunists preach their beliefs so that people turn to them. Thus, the town starts living a restricted life full of miseries and sufferings. The problem that could be solved earlier by removing rats from the town or disposing of them in a protected manner is now aggravated. More people have fallen prey to the epidemic. Another earlier solution could also be to hire more doctors to treat the disease but now the problem is so out of control that nobody seems to take the risk of entering the land to help them.
While the Plague of 1940 can be matched with the other plagues, the actual problem is not only the epidemic but all the resembling events and disasters that hit people and affect lives at massive scale. The earth quakes, fire incidents, tsunamis, volcano eruptions; all can be compared to the plague in terms of misery. The Plague of 1940 paralyzed the nation as the war the plague of today, the racism, affects millions at present. The Racism too, is translating into hatred among nations and communities. The society needs to understand that if this racism is kept uncontrolled for too long, there will be a counterproductive society that will not be ready to cooperate will each other based on racial prejudice and discrimination.
The sealing of the town reminds of the lack of communication among races when there is hatred. The lack of communication is in itself a problem. When the people do not interact with each other, the misconceptions grow faster. One race considers itself superior and the other as inferior. The plague of racism is thus alarming because this can lead to violence in the society. It encourages people to look down upon the other race. Racism provokes individuals to mistreat other races since they believe that God created other races on purpose to be treated badly. Like the character of the father who takes the epidemic as an opportunity, it should be remembered that there can be many elements that can seek advantage of the racism in the society.
The application of part two of the novel The Plague is that people suffer a lot more when they do not identify problem well in time. The suffering may include loss of health, growth, social boycott and even psychological diseases like depression etc. It is the responsibility of public bodies as well as the citizens to act well in time in order to avoid the sufferings. Race is a means of identification of people and not the means of discrimination (Albert Camus: The Plague and an Ethic of Nonviolence, 1998). Thus, it is required that not alone form work place, but racism should be uprooted from all the components of a society. Inter-racial marriages should be promoted in order to cultivate an environment of love and harmony.
Like the fruit ripens in sun, the problems ripe when ignored. This is what the third portion of the novel The Plague teaches. The simple sealing of town and depriving people of external communication did not work. There were increasing number of people trying to escape the town but they could not. There was a state of martial law and the people were controlled to stay in the town by means of violence. People started looting the town and there was no apparent means by which the normal life could start in the country. Funerals lack any feelings for the families of the deceased and people seek exile rather staying in.
Racism often comes with the same feeling of suffocation where people do not have enough air to breath in. they feel like being caught up in a prison where their rights are not respected and where they are mocked for their specific racial orientation. This leads to revolt. People therefore become insensitive and they do not obey the rules and feel less for their fellow beings. When an individual experiences racial hatred and discrimination, his feelings for the society are hurt. He does not feel welcomed and thus seeks escape from his social responsibilities too. The racism is a poison and disease like plague that cannot affect single person in the community. It is plague that spreads among people at a great speed. This poison affects one person form the other and thus whole society is caught up. Then, the discriminated person wants an escape from the system by any means. He wants to revolt and escape from the society.
The third part of the novel teaches that racial discrimination will end up in nothing but despair and lack of hope. The only way to head towards a better future is to be together and feel the sufferings of others. People in society should realize that if they are going to show discriminatory behavior against someone simply on the basis of race, they will not stay safe rather the effects of racial discrimination will catch them sooner or later.
The part four of the novel starts with the hopeless condition in the town but ends with the good news that the death rates start to decline in the area. While there is downfall of anything in the world, it is evident that the problem of racism will end one day too. But the question is that after affecting how many lives will this problem be solved? The lives of people…