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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
PART IV, SECTION 7
Even as Christmas approaches, the plague continues to devastate. The patients, however, become more cooperative, and people begin to unite against the plague. M. Othon, who had difficulty in being released from quarantine, goes back to the isolation camp to be an official volunteer fighting against the disease.
The citizens of Oran still hurt from their isolation from the outside world. Rambert encourages Rieux to use an illegal channel to write a letter to his wife, and the lonely doctor agrees. Grand is overcome by nostalgia for his ex-wife and loses his balance of mind. When he comes down with a chest congestion and is not expected to survive, he asks his manuscript to be destroyed. Amazingly, against all expectations, he recovers.
Slowly, but surely, some hope is seen. The asthma patient gloats over the fact that the rats have returned to Oran and sees it as a good sign. Before long, there is a remission in the death rate among men.
A series of unexpected reversals takes place in this section. M Othon switches his position and begins to help in the fight against the plague as a volunteer. Symbolically, his eyes lose their "steely look," suggesting his greater compassion for mankind. Rieux unexpectedly violates a regulation banning the sending of letters in order to communicate with his ill wife. Grand, fearing death, has his literary manuscript burned.
The plague seems to be finally loosening its firm grip. The rats return to Oran, which is taken as a good sign. The death rate also slows. But the disease will gather its forces in the last section to attack Tarrou, one of its greatest adversaries. Like in war, a strategic retreat is followed by the most decisive battle.