Balk at Being Caged

under the dome

This week on Stephen King’s new hit series, the people isolated Under the Dome became inexplicably ill.  In response, they quarantined the sick, but was quarantined the right word? The words isolation and quarantined are often used interchangeably. Healthy people who may have been exposed to a communicable disease are quarantined to see if they will become ill, but people who are ill are separated, or isolated, from those who are healthy.

quarantineAttitudes about quarantine and isolation have been continuously raised as civil rights issues since Typhoid Mary’s 24-year isolation early last century (see Cursed Carriers). In response to isolation or quarantine, people tend to become desperate out of fear. Those who are sick may be too weak to fight. People who haven’t been exposed wouldn’t mind being quarantined in their homes to stay safe. But those who aren’t ill, and don’t want to catch the disease, balk at being caged.

In the 2008 science fiction horror film Quarantine,  the main character is exposed to an infectious disease that causes excessive bleeding and foaming at the mouth, turning the infected into bloodthirsty savages. Before the good guys make it out of the apartment house where the infection first occurs, the government quarantines the building full of the sick and exposed. I won’t go into details about the plot, but if you like zombies, you’ll probably enjoy this movie. Although it received mixed reviews, Quarantine 2: Terminal was released in 2011.

Quarantine (film)
Quarantine (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Select, Cleans, and Carriers define the three segments of Earth’s population in Daystealer. By the time Trinidad arrives, the Virus has been around for fifteen years. The Select are isolated and Cleans quarantined, although freer than the contagious-but-not-ill Carriers who are kept imprisoned in ghettos. In the first scene, she encounters Carriers who have escaped their prison, but she has no idea they are a threat. Only a brand on their cheek identifies them as Carriers, but she doesn’t know this. Even though they are stinking and filthy, they have what she needs–their life essence, or Days. As the series progresses, Trinidad discovers the injustice toward the Carriers which causes her to free them from certain annihilation.

How would you feel if you were suddenly surrounded by a deathly contagion and couldn’t get away? Would you mob your sentries to escape or surrender and risk infection, waiting out an incubation period to keep healthy people safe?

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