Albert Camus, writer of both novels;
The Stranger and The Plague, made it very clear that all humans are going to die
eventually and that there is not anything they can do to avoid it. In The Stranger lied Meursault an observer
who handled his mother’s death in a rather careless manner as if nothing had occurred.
While, The Plague featured a Doctor
by the name of Rieux who ignored addressing the situation of his decaying spouse
in order to treat his patients. The character Meursault went onto illustrate
the theme of mortality by taking the life of another person, not for self
defense, yet for a frivolous reason surrounding the weather conditions. The Plague consisted of a character by
the name of Dr. Rieux who contrasts Meursault as he was a man dedicated to his
craft, trying to do his best to postpone his patient’s deaths. Furthermore, The Stranger detailed Salamano and more
importantly his decaying dog which bridged a connection between human lives
being equal to animals.  This parallels
with Dr. Rieux in The Plague, as he made
connections between the deaths of humans and pets. Moreover, Meursault had a
unique outlook on mortality as he admitted to be fearless of dying. To the
contrary in The Plague, Dr. Rieux did
not accept the idea of dying as he tried his best to save his own colleagues
who feared death. In The Stranger and
The Plague, the theme of mortality was
clearly developed through reactions to death, treatment of lives as well as
connections to animals and acceptances of death which are all defining
components to mortality.            The
Stranger exhibits the theme of mortality as Meursault was unfazed to the
death that occurred around him. His lack of fear towards death was clear as he
did not mourn the death of his own mother but took it as an inconvenience.  Meursault’s carelessness towards others is
evident in the quote “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got
a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’
That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday” (Camus 1). This declared how
out of the loop he was, as he did not recall the day his own mother died, emphasizing
the little he care had for the significant people around him who perished.
Furthermore, Meursault’s reaction to his mother’s death was seen as an
inconvenience to him when stating, “That way I can be there for the vigil and
come back tomorrow night. I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way
he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that. But he wasn’t too happy
about it. I even said, ‘It’s not my fault” (Camus 3). This showed how detached
he was from the idea of mortality. He went onto point out how furious his boss would
be at news of him needing just enough time off to participate in his mother’s
funeral, which should not have been a major concern.            In the novel The Plague, Dr. Rieux dealt with mortality as his wife’s health declined
to the point of eventual death. It came to a point where he was more focused on
treating patients, instead of his decaying wife which was clear as he said
“Then hurriedly he begged her to forgive him; he felt he should have looked
after her better, he’d been most remiss.” (Camus 10). His dying wife showed
that death did not target only seniors, yet people of all walks of life such as
his very own young wife. Dr. Rieux made reference to his wife’s poor shape as
he said, “His wife was thirty, and the long illness had left its mark on her
face. Yet the thought that came to Rieux’s mind as he gazed at her was ‘How
young she looks, almost like a little girl!'” (Camus 8)The Stranger featured
Meursault who committed the horrific act of murder, of which he claimed the
life of an Arab over no good reason but the heat. This showed the theme of
mortality as he had no concern for the well being of people as he commuted senseless
murder. Meursault claimed “The sun glinted off Raymond’s gun as he handed it to
me” (Camus 56). Which the reader can interpret as Meursault not accepting his
action of killing an Arab as his fault, but the fault of the sun. He even went
onto say “Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets
lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on
the door of unhappiness” (Camus 59). It is unclear as to why Meursault felt the
need to shoot the Arab an additional four times. It is evident that Meursault
was in a rush to take the life from the Arab, and he would stop at nothing to
complete this task.             The
Plague showed Dr. Rieux in his typical state trying to do everything he could
to postpone the death of his patients but it was no help. He felt the death
occurring around him was no coincidence and surely had a connection to the
excruciating heat from the sun. As Dr. Rieux said “Since this first onslaught
of the heat synchronized with a startling increase in the number of victims—there
were now nearly seven hundred deaths a week—a mood of profound discouragement
settled on the town” (Camus 64).”The incessant sunlight and those bright
hours associated with siesta or with holiday no longer invited, as in the past,
to frolics and flirtation on the beaches. Now they rang hollow in the silence
of the closed town, they had lost the golden spell of happier summers. Plague
had killed all colors, vetoed pleasure.” (Camus 113) Dr. Rieux reclaimed the plague brought death
and was related to the heat of the summer. The deeper meaning behind Dr.
Rieux’s words was that the heat broke down the citizens of Oran spirits of
fighting causing them to be defeated mentally and physically.            There is a clear connection between
Salamano and his dog as they both fell victim to mortality as they faced
dwindling health. Meursault could not realize this as he stated, “After living
together for so long, the two of them alone in one tiny room, they’ve ended up
looking like each other. … They look as if they belong to the same species,
and yet they hate each other” (Camus 26). The thing that made Salamano look so
similar to his dog was that they where both slowly decaying and there was
nothing they could to do stop it. Translating to Meursault who could not understand
that all creations where made equal and that they all would face death.
Salamano’s dog continued to reveal the truth of how equal all creatures are equal
as they decay as the dog is comparable to Salamano’s deceased wife.”Just
for something to say, I asked him about his dog. He told me he’d gotten it
after his wife died …. He hadn’t been happy with his wife, but he’d pretty
much gotten used to her. When she died he had been very lonely … Salamano
rubbed him with ointment. But according to him, the dog’s real sickness was old
age, and there’s no cure for old age.” (Camus 44)            In The Plague, Dr. Rieux made it clear that the death of animals and
humans was there to represent how they where both equal as creatures and all
die eventually. As Dr. Rieux stated, “A
system of patrols was instituted and often in the empty, sweltering streets,
heralded by a clatter of horse hoofs on the cobbles, a detachment of mounted
police would make its way between the parallel lines of close-shut windows. Now
and again a gunshot was heard; the special brigade recently detailed to destroy
cats and dogs, as possible carriers of infection, was at work. And these whip
crack sounds startling the silence increased the nervous tension already
existing in the town” (Camus 112). Which
was there to prove great relevance as the animals roaming the streets where
killed on sight. While the people where taken in and quarantined which showed no
sign of actually helping them get better. This further bridged the gap between
humans and animals being equal as the quarantine was useless as the humans that
had the plague would soon end up dead regardless. The only thing that
differentiates humans from animals is that our deaths are marked and recorded
while the deaths of animals where not. “In
the period we are now concerned with, the separation of the sexes was still in
force and the authorities set great store by it. At the bottom of each pit a
deep layer of quicklime steamed and seethed. … The naked, somewhat contorted
bodies were slid off into the pit almost side by side, then covered with a
layer of quicklime and another of earth, the latter only a few inches deep, so
as to leave space for subsequent consignments. On the following day the next of
kin were asked to sign the register of burials, which showed the distinction
that can be made between me and, for example, dogs; men’s deaths are checked
and entered up” (Camus 159).             Meursault was very ingrained in the theme
of mortality as he welcomed his own death with open arms. He had a unique view
related to death, clear through his conversations with the chaplain. Moreover,
he clearly displayed his acceptance of death as he stated, “… the way he saw
it, we were all condemned to die. But I interrupted him by saying that it
wasn’t the same thing and that besides, it wouldn’t be a consolation anyway”
(Camus 117). This can be interpreted as him not associating his death to the
will of God but it being a natural thing to accept. In the same conversation
the chaplain went onto express towards Meursault that he should fear death. “Then,
I don’t know why, but something inside me snapped. I started yelling at the top
of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me. I
grabbed him by the collar of his cassock. I was pouring out on him everything
that was in my heart …. He seemed so certain about everything, didn’t he? And
yet none of his certainties was worth one hair of a woman’s head. He wasn’t
even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man …. But I was
sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life
and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at
least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me” (Camus 120). Meursault
went on and explain to the chaplain that he was living like a man who had
already died as he could not accept death without relating it to God.                    In
opposition to Meursault who approached the thought of dying with acceptance was
Dr. Rieux who would not accept the people around him to die without him trying
his best to save their lives. As for Dr. Rieux’s colleague Tarrou, the thought
of death terrified him. Although, he was unable to avoid it as he became a
victim of the plague. His fear of the plague is vivid as he said “From
that day on … I took a horrified interest in legal proceedings, death
sentences, executions, and I realized with dismay that my father must have
often witnessed those brutal murders.” (Camus 129) Granted, there was good
reason for Tarrou to fear death as the officials of Oran where hiding dead
bodies in the night. “The
first step taken was to bury the dead by night, which obviously permitted a
more summary procedure. The bodies were piled into ambulances in larger and
larger numbers. And the few belated wayfarers who, in defiance of the regulations,
were abroad in the outlying districts after curfew hour, or whose duties took
them there, often saw the long white ambulances hurtling past, making the night
bound streets reverberate with the dull clangor of their bells. The corpses
were tipped pell-mell into the pits and had hardly settled into place when
spadesful of quicklime began to sear their faces and the earth covered them
indistinctively, in holes dug steadily deeper as time went on” (Camus 177). As
the death count of Oran continued to grow exponentially, it caused fear to

was developed through the novels The
Plague and The Stranger through the
individual having to put up with losing their mother or wife, living with
murder in turn trying to save everybody, seeing that animals along with humans
are quite similar and trying to accept death. Meursault reacted nonchalant to
his mother’s death unaware of what day she had died. In comparison, Dr. Rieux
paralleled Meursault as he neglected his wife who was dying to try and save
patients from the plague. There was also Meursault’s murder which resulted from
the heat getting to him. This contrasts with Dr. Rieux as he would never hurt a
soul, but instead go out of his way to treat it. There were also connections
Meursault was blind to see between Salamano and his dog that revealed how
humans and animals where equal as they both die, while Dr. Rieux was able to
recognize that humans and animals are equal. In The Stranger Meursault also felt comfortable in accepting death,
unlike Dr. Rieux in The Stranger who
did not want to fail any of his patients and his colleague who didn’t want to
end up in a coffin. Essentially, mortality is a variable in life none of us
will be able to control and one we need to learn to be comfortable with.


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