AP English 12 Reading Guide for The Plague by guy21


									                   AP English 12 Reading Guide for The Plague

I. As you read the novel, complete the chart by adding details and noting any changes
in the characters.

Description                        Beliefs                      Key quotes
Dr. Rieux



Father Paneloux

Joseph Grand

Monsieur Cottard
II. Notice that the novel is structured by five parts. Complete the chart as you read
each part.

Plot Structure     Beginning                          Middle              End
Part I             Introductory (3-7)          First days:           “Proclaim a state of
Story labeled a    Description of town:        --Wrapped up in       plague…”
“chronicle.”         --Ugly                    selves; refusal to
Narrator             --                        accept seriousness
unidentified but a Boredom/banality            --Cottard changes
member of the town   --People love w.o.        toward friendliness
                   knowing much
                   about love
                     --lack of empathy
Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V                 --Plague declined       Cottard’s mood        Rieux’s final
Rieux identified as    “as if cornered”--“in   changes toward        thoughts: “one thing
narrator               retreat” but “no        negative behavior     men can always
                       immediate impact        Tarrou dies            yearn for and
                       on men’s lives”         Dr. Rieux’ wife dies   sometimes
                       --growing optimism      Opening of gates       attain…is human
                                               and reuniting of       love”--the one thing
                                               lovers (e.g. Rambert   that depended on
                                               and his wife)          them solely.
                                               “…real life would      No answer for those
                                               begin again            who aspired beyond
                                                                      and above the
                                                                      human individual to
                                                                      something they
                                                                      could not imagine.
                                                                      Only certitudes are
                                                                      love, exile, suffering
                                                                      Rieux bears witness
                                                                      “there are more
                                                                      things to admire in
                                                                      men than to
                                                                      Plague never dies or
                                                                      disappears for

III. Thematic issues
The novel operates on four levels:
1-- Literal-- the effects of an epidemic of bubonic plague (You may wish to
    research the historical episodes of bubonic plague.)
2--Political--the plague as metaphor for oppression as exemplified by the German
   occupation of France from 1941-1944 (You may wish to research the German
   occupation of France and the role of the French Resistance in combating it.)
3--Metaphysical--the plague as a metaphor for the problem of evil in the world
   and its cause, human indifference.
4--Existential--the plague as a metaphor for death to explore the meaning of life in face
   of human mortality

However you peel this onion, Camus’ novel focuses on the human condition as he sees it.
He both criticizes 20th century man and presents his view of life’s certainties, the
uncertainties, and how man should behave.
    What are the follies of man’s behaviors as exemplified by townspeople of Oran
       before the plague, during the plague, and after the plague?
    Reread pp. 3-7 (Rieux as unidentified narrator) and p. 308 (Rieux as narrator
       revealed). What differences do you notice in the tone and content of the two?
    Review your character chart. Which characters display characteristics and beliefs
       that Camus endorses? Make a list of these beliefs.
IV. Literary device: Irony

      Irony is frequently used in works dealing with social commentary or in ones
exploring human frailty. It is a device quite effective for revealing the disparity between
reality and illusion, for uncovering hypocrisy, or for exposing man’s limitations. As you
read this novel, look for ironic statements, situations, and expectations. Usually, Camus
uses irony to comment on how the townspeople respond to their situation, a plague.
Additionally, his irony suggests an absurdity in their responses.

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