The Plague Part 2 (Section 5)
The narrator tells more about Rambert's continuing struggle to escape Oran and be reunited with his wife. Having had no success with attempts to go through official channels, Rambert finally begins to make some advances with the help of Cottard, who is involved with smuggling ventures in plague-ridden Oran.
The smugglers Cottard tries to rendezvous with are what one might expect: difficult to get in touch with and a bit suspicious, but willing to get Rambert out of the city if he's willing to pay. The smugglers, who do their work down by the port, include Garcia, Raoul, and Gonzales. Gonzales, an ardent soccer player who is also described as "horse-face," arranges that Rambert should stay with Marcel and Louis, two young brothers who are guards at the city gates and who will smuggle Rambert out of Oran.
Although Rambert's getaway is set for a few days later, it doesn't happen. The smugglers, for various reasons, don't show at many of the meetings, and Rambert begins to get anxious and depressed, and seems to be drinking a lot. One night when he's drinking with Dr. Rieux and Tarrou, Tarrou says it's a shame that Rambert won't be sticking around, because he could be a big help in one of the sanitary squads. Tarrou has already succeeded in getting Father Paneloux to join the squads. One person who won't join the squads is Cottard, who continues to be perversely satisfied by the escalation of the plague. Tarrou finally guesses why Cottard thinks this way--Cottard did something wrong before the plague broke out and was about to be arrested, but the plague has kept the police so busy that he's safe until it ends.
Tarrou, Rieux, and Rambert get into another philosophical discussion one night: about whether it is worth dying for an idea, or only for love. Rambert and Rieux take opposite sides on this issue. Rambert claims he doesn't believe in the heroism of dying for an idea, that he only believes in living or dying for what one loves. Rieux thinks that saving people from the plague is not heroism, only common decency. When Tarrou tells Rambert that Rieux is separated from his wife, too, this has a powerful effect on Rambert. The morning after this discussion, Rambert calls and says that while he waits for his getaway, he would like to volunteer for the sanitary squads.