Exiled in your hometown

AnnaP's picture

In Professor Dalke’s Thursday discussion section, we explored the idea of solidarity in times of struggle and talked about a lot of different scenarios in which we, like Rambert, might be tempted to leave a difficult situation. The difficulty of being separated from one’s homeland because of a difficult situation, however, seems to be a problem even for the people who remain in Oran, for the place they are staying is not like the one that they knew before The Plague descended upon the city. They are transformed and develop a different relationship to the space they inhabit; the disease fundamentally transforms their relationship to their city.

The theme of exile is very present throughout The Plague; at one point, the narrator states that the only three things that people have in common during the plague is love, suffering, and exile. I’m curious to see how (or if) people see The Plague as a story of exile, considering the fact that most people are trapped in their own city rather than forced to leave it. (I know there are some people who are stuck outside of Oran because they traveled when quarantine set in, but interestingly enough this text does not focus on these characters.)

 

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ewashburn's picture

I, the Survivor

As I brought up in our discussion group, this portion of the class reminded me of a poem by Bertolt Brecht called, "I, the Survivor," the text of which I've placed below:

 

I know of course; it’s simply luck

That I’ve survived so many friends. But last night in a dream

I heard those friends say of me: “Survival of the fittest”

And I hated myself.

 

AnnaP points out that those who were stuck outside of Oran because they traveled when quarantine set in are not focused on, which I agree is interesting. What I also find interesting, especially in the context of this poem, is the state that those people are in when they return to find their loved ones gone, especially as Camus describes the joyful reuniting of lovers and families. Those who return and find their loved ones dead must feel a sort of "exile," having returned home only to see their home has completely changed. These people seem most susceptible to the "survivor's guilt" that Brecht describes, especially because it was "simply luck" that they happened to be traveling outside of Oran and thus happened to escape the disease.

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