Joseph Grand: character in The Plague

Also Read

       A Perfectionist : Joseph Grand is a fifty-year-old clerk for the city government. He is tall and thin and always wears clothes a size too large for him. Poorly paid, he lives an austere life, but he is capable of deep affection. In his spare time, Grand polishes up his Latin, and he is also writing a book, but he is such a perfectionist that he continually rewrites the first sentence and can get no further. One of his problems in life is that he can rarely find the correct words to express what he means. Grand tells Dr. Bernard Rieux that he married while still in his teens, but overwork and poverty took their toll (Grand did not receive the career advancement that he had been promised), and his wife Jeanne left him. He tried but failed to write a letter to her, and he still grieves for his loss.


In his spare time, Grand polishes up his Latin, and he is also writing a book, but he is such a perfectionist that he continually rewrites the first sentence and can get no further.
Joseph Grand


      True Embodiment of Quiet Courage : Grand is a neighbour of Cottard, and it is he who calls Rieux for help, when Cottard tries to commit suicide. When the plague takes a grip on the town, Grand joins the team of volunteers, acting as general secretary, recording all the statistics. Rieux regards him as "the true embodiment of the quiet courage that inspired the sanitary groups." Grand catches the plague himself and asks Rieux to burn his manuscript. But then he makes an unexpected recovery. At the end of the novel, Grand says he is much happier; he has written to Jeanne and made a fresh start on his book.


      One of the Most Colourless Characters in the Novel : Grand is one of the most colourless characters in the novel. He is content to earn a very small salary as a municipal clerk and to live a very humble lifestyle. In spite of his poverty, he has a dream. He believes he will write a literary masterpiece, on which he diligently works in his spare time. When the masterpiece is destroyed before its completion, he vows to start anew. Because he refuses to let life frustrate him. Rieux considers Grand to be a hero.


      Rieux is surprised to learn that Grand had been married. His wife left him because he was willing to settle for a life of poverty and because he spent all of his spare time on his literary work, never paying her attention. Since her departure, he has kept mostly to himself, and few people in Oran really know him. It is, therefore, somewhat surprising that he goes to Cottard's aid, to the extent of wanting to cover up his attempted suicide from the authorities. He also joins Tarrou's troop of volunteers, coming in after work to help in the struggle against the plague.


      An Elderly Civil Servant : Joseph Grand is an elderly civil servant in Oran. When he accepted his job as a young man, he was promised the opportunity for promotion, but, over the years, he never actively pursued it. Therefore, he remained in the same job for decades. His marriage also settled into a daily humdrum. Eventually, Grand's wife Jeanne tired of the monotonous routine and left him. Over the years, Grand has tried to write her a letter, but he suffers from an intense anxiety over finding the "right words" to express himself. This anxiety also hinders his literary pursuit. Grand is trying to write a book but he wants to create the perfect manuscript, so he has never gotten beyond the opening line.

Previous Post Next Post