The priest interprets the sudden plague as just punishment for the sins of his congregation. He is vividly adamant during his sermon and further confuses an already puzzled, fearful populace. Later, after enrolling in the plague fighters' battalion, he has direct contact with day after day of poisoned, contorted victims. Death and plague are no longer easy abstracts. After witnessing the long, agonizing death of a child, Jacques Othon, he reassesses his faith and preaches another sermon. No longer does he speak of punishment. Suffering cannot be interpreted except in the sense that it is of absolute good and part of God's will. He demands that his congregation and that he, himself, love and approve of this unexplainable curse. Either this, or man must deny God completely. His death has strange symptoms, not at all plague-like. He seems to will his own death in order to join the ranks of the victims. Assenting to the plague, convinced that it is part of a divine good, he joins the dead.