The Plague Part 1 (Section 3)
The plague has now been called by its proper name, but no one wants to believe it's for real:
"... we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away..." Part 1, pg. 37
And because the townspeople don't accept the plague, they keep on living their lives as they normally would. The narrator says:
"They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences." Part 1, pg. 37
Dr. Rieux is having a hard time looking the reality of the plague in the face. Although he has heard that plagues over history have caused nearly a hundred million deaths, that number really doesn't mean anything to him--he can't feel something so abstract. Even though he has lots of specific images of the plague to help it feel more real, nothing works, not even imagining the Athenians burning bodies dead from the plague on the shores of the sea. The doctor resolves that his most logical course of action is to not get so absorbed in imagining, and simply do his job as a doctor.