The Plague Part 2 (Section 3)
On a rainy day in the officially organized Week of Prayer, Father Paneloux delivers his fiery sermon to the people of Oran. The sermon begins: "Calamity has come on you, my brethren, and, my brethren, you deserved it" (pg. 94).
Paneloux preaches that the plague has been sent by God to separate the good people from the bad, to harvest the "wheat" for heaven and leave behind the "chaff" for their punishment of horrible suffering. He shows very little sympathy.
With the arrival of sizzling summer heat, and perhaps as a consequence of Paneloux's sermon, the people of Oran finally break into widespread panic. Grand and Rieux, walking one night, see a dying lunatic on the street, which so unnerves Grand that they go for a drink together, where Grand tells Rieux a little more about his mysterious "work." He confesses that he is indeed working on a book, which he wants to be so perfect that the publisher, upon reading it, will stand up in his office and demand all give a "hat's off" to Grand and his stunning creation. Rieux asks for a sample reading and Grand reads him his first line: "One fine morning in the month of May an elegant young horsewoman might have been seen riding a handsome sorrel mare along the flowery avenues of the Bois de Boulogne" (pg. 104). Apparently, after years of work, this is all Grand has written.
Rambert is still struggling with officialdom: he is asked to fill out papers and generally confronted with huge amounts of red tape. He gets depressed, and begins wandering around cafes and hanging out at the railroad station, trying to take his mind off of his troubles. Rambert finds himself in a strange psychological position: all of his memories of his wife in Paris keep him both miserable, but sated enough to not be able to take any real action.