The Plague Part 1 (Section 2)
A lot of the material for this story, the narrator tells us, came from Jean Tarrou's diary. Tarrou, a visitor to Oran, is a great observer of small details, and he has an odd way of being amused by the ugliness of the city. One of the scenes he writes is about the cat man who has a ritual from which he derives great pleasure: calling the neighborhood cats from his window and then vigorously spitting on them when they arrive. The progress of the plague is evident when the cats stop coming to his window; the felines are presumably the newest group of plague victims.
Tarrou also writes about an odd, overly formal family, who dines at the restaurant of the hotel where he's staying. He tells of his conversations with the hotel manager, who is disturbed that dead rats can be found in the poor neighborhoods as well as his fancy hotel. The plague does not discriminate.
With nearly twenty people dead in the last few days, Rieux gets worried enough to call Richard again. Rieux wants to take some official action to stop the disease, but Richard says nothing can be done without the okay of the Prefect, the bureaucrat with the power to make those sort of decisions.
The weather is getting steamy, and as Dr. Rieux drives out to visit Cottard, the man who attempted suicide, he feels more and more nervous about what's happening in the town. Joseph Grand, who lives in the same building as Cottard, invites Rieux to his room--on the table, Rieux notices Grand's manuscript--a novel, a history... Rieux doesn't ask. The police inspector, who Cottard was so nervous about, takes a short statement from Cottard who claims "secret grief" led him to attempt suicide.
Thus far no one has used the word "plague" to describe the disease that is claiming more and more lives, and it is one of Rieux's colleagues, Castel, who presses Rieux to admit that the plague is what they are dealing with. The two doctors hope this epidemic will not be as horrible as the plagues of the past.