Fifth Part

From January onwards, the plague seems to disappear of its own accord. Castel's serum is efficient, but is by no means responsible for all of the healing. Judge Othon dies. In the streets, people's faces are more relaxed. A feeling of hope predominates, some still live however in the firm grip of the plague. In the midst of the general joy, Rieux, Tarrou and Rambert are torn between fatigue and joy. Tarrou observes Cottard's consternation; the old man with the cats has disappeared. He admires Rieux's wife. Cottard isolates himself, and worries about returning to normal life. Tarrou is struck down by the plague. Rieux cares for him at his house, with his mother. When he dies, the doctor is faced with the difficulty of living without hope. There will be no peace for him and shortly afterwards he learns of the death of his wife: the suffering continues. He finds support and reassurance in his mother's love, that which is beyond words.

In February, the gates of Oran are opened. Lovers find one another, yet as in Rambet's case not without fearing they will find them changed. For those who have lost someone, the plague has not finished. The sun, mercy's actions, pilgrimages to the places of suffering give an air of grave happiness to the town. Rieux is definitively alone. Happiness is only possible for those who in contrast to Tarrou have not sought to understand, but only to love.

The tale draws to an end. Rieux now takes over the narration. He has shared in everyone's anguish, which gives him the authority to speak now. A now insane Cottard is arrested. Grand decides to write to his wife and begin once more on his book. From a balcony, Rieux watches the town. Those who have brought him love and happiness have shared in the fight but are forgotten now. The town rediscovers happiness, but it is not a definitive victory. The plague still lingers and the lingering threat that it may one day return to threaten and jeopardise man's happiness once again.

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