February 4, 2015 – Notes

 In attendance: Janice Loschiavo, Lois Pagnozzi, Cathy Quinn, Sharon Rome, Barbara Santillo, Tina Segali, Marilyn Sinisi.

Absent: Liz Clarke, Vivian Krone, Meta Pitrelli,, Donna Sabetta, Jeri Stangl, Joan Swensen.

Book & Author: The Plague, by Albert Camus.

The hardy book club members braved the chill and icy streets to arrive at the warmth of Barbara’s house. Once again, we enjoyed delectable Chinese food and Valentine’s chocolates. A new treat was an aromatic mulled cider prepared by our hostess and served in a special book club mug. Sharon and Cathy spoiled us with their delicious home-baked cookies, while each fortune cookie message was read and evaluated.

If the notes below seem fewer than usual, it is likely due to the note-taker’s concentration on the food instead of the writing as well as the other members’ reluctance to speak for attribution. Be assured that the conversation was animated and all contributed.

Questions and Comments regarding The Plague:

  • Is The Plague an anti-Christian novel?
  • At the end of the book, Dr. Rieux states that “there are more things to admire in men than to despise.” Did the actions in the book support this statement?
  • Why are most of the characters men? Was Camus sexist? It was pointed out that he was renowned as a womanizer.
  • It was noted that it was difficult to keep the characters straight; the character development in the novel was not as strong as in other novels we’ve read.
  • At the end of the book, we read, “that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years…; that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.” Men have to remain vigilant to ensure that the pestilence doesn’t return. It was noted that the book is an allegory about Nazism.
  • What makes some people brave like Dr. Rieux, and others take advantage of adversity, like Cottard? There was no glamour in the doctor’s bravery; he felt he was just doing what was necessary, day after day, to try to keep the plague controlled.
  • One of the positions of the novel is that either God is not able to prevent evil and therefore is not omnipotent, or God is all-powerful and thus condones evil.
  • The inhabitants of Oran acted like many people in a crisis situation. “Without memories, without hope, they lived for the moment only. Indeed the here and now had come to mean everything to them. For there is no denying that the plague had gradually killed off in all of us the faculty not of love only but even of friendship. Naturally enough, since love asks something of the future, and nothing was left us but a series of present moments.”
  • The rats symbolize the plague but also people, who too die in the streets and everywhere else. The rats’ return at the end of the book is a positive sign for the humans as well.
  • The novel deals with the difficulty of communication and language. One of the characters is writing a novel and endlessly reworks the first (and only) sentence because he feels he can never get it right.
  • The scene where the people are quarantined in the soccer stadium, largely forgotten, was reminiscent of the aftermath of Katrina.

The book was awarded a 4.0 rating.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 4, 5:00 p.m., at Tina’s house. The book chosen by Marilyn is The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.

March 4 at Tina’s house.

April 1 at Liz’s’ house.

May 6 at Lois’s house.

June 3 – probably back at Joan’s house.

Submitted by Tina Segali

February 7, 2015