Oran, peaceful and unprepared, is overcome by Bubonic plague. Separation, isolation and indigence become the common lot of distinct characters whose actions, thoughts and feelings constitute a dynamic story of man imprisoned. Prior to the closing, people went about their business as usual, almost oblivious to the plague. When Oran was shut off from the world, its residents had to adapt to the new conditions of life. Men reacted to the terrible visitation in different ways, according to their beliefs and characters. I believe their reactions were based on their personality and their experience during the plague. Each react to the circumstances of the plague in a unique way, and emerge from the plague with his own new perspective of life and its values.
The residents of Oran are as travelers on a long, straight, boring road. They came upon the plague as a traveler comes upon an unexpected fork in the road.
Some veer left, some right. A few are unaffected by (or unaware of) the fork in the road, and proceed straight ahead with their lives with very little change in habit. These persons lift themselves above the desperation and focus their actions on the grueling responsibility of making life better for themselves and others.
The greatest affliction the citizens of Oran suffer when visited by the plague is not fear but the sense of separation, the loneliness of exile, the pain of imprisonment. The plague has an affect on most everyone in Oran. Some become better people, some worse. Grand, Rambert and Paneloux are all markedly changed afterward. Dr. Rieux and Tarrou are virtually unaffected. Cottard undergoes but a temporary metamorphosis.
Monsieur Cottard is a criminal hunted by the law. A silent, secretive, plump little man, he comes to Oran to hide from prosecution. M.