Raymond Rambert, a young journalist, wants to interview Dr. Rieux about the poor living conditions in the Arab quarter.
When Dr. Rieux says he will go on the record only if Rambert will print the absolute truth, Raymond reveals he actually isn’t in a position to do this.
He’s interested in the doctor’s suggestion that he write a story about the rats.
After the gates have been closed, Rambert tries to escape Oran on the grounds that he’s a stranger to town and has the worst luck/timing ever.
Also, his "wife," a woman to whom he isn’t actually married, is in Paris. And he misses her.
In his attempt to pull some strings, Rambert approaches Rieux to ask for a note saying he is plague-free and should therefore be allowed to leave.
Rambert is none too pleased by the doctor’s response that everyone is in the same boat here in Oran.
In the grand society vs. the individual argument, Rambert argues for the individual. He claims the doctor is speaking in abstractions.
Rambert continues his thus far fruitless efforts to escape. He’s asked to fill out "contingency" papers, which gets him excited until he realizes they’re just "In case you die" papers.
Fed up with the legal route, Rambert decides to escape Oran illegally.
He is stopped on the street by Cottard, who had heard of Rambert’s desire to leave Oran.
It is obvious that Cottard only wants to help him so he can gain another friend – and a journalist friend, at that.
Rambert is introduced to Garcia, a sketchball friend of Cottard’s. Plans are hatched.
He and Cottard are heading to meet Raoul, yet another man in what we have dubbed The Illegal Escape Ring of Shadiness, when Tarrou and the doctor drive up.
Everyone looks at one another, but no one can figure out how much the other people know about The Illegal Escape Ring of Shadiness.
M. Othon comes sauntering along, and Rambert tries to act all nonchalant along with everyone else.
Rambert continues to meet repeatedly and fruitlessly with the Ring of Shadiness.
He meets Gonzales, as well as Marcel and Louis.
Rambert shows up to meet with Tarrou and Rieux and finds Cottard screaming about how he’s not going to go to jail.
In defense of his not joining the volunteer sanitation effort, Rambert says that man is capable of a lot, but not of suffering for a long time. (Or, he adds, of being happy for a long time, but we guess he’ll worry about that when it comes up.)
He doesn’t believe in heroism or ideas, he adds, only in fighting concretely for what one loves.
Rambert is shamed when Tarrou tells him that Rieux, too, is separated from his wife.
The next day, Rambert shows up to join the volunteer teams – but only until he can escape Oran.
Still plotting his escape, Rambert confesses to Rieux his drunken "I think I have the plague!" evening. Quite embarrassingly, he runs to the town gates and cries for his absent "wife."
He is instructed to get on the escape thing already, as all his scheming is starting to attract attention.
Rambert asks the doctor why he hasn’t tried to stop his escape, and learns that Rieux doesn’t know which action is right and which is wrong in response to the plague.
Rambert camps out at Marcel and Louis’s place and talks with their mother, who tells him he doesn’t have anything to live for besides this woman in Paris. Thanks.
Rambert is told to be ready at "midnight sharp" for his escape.
Instead of being "ready," he goes to the hospital, finds Tarrou, and asks to see Rieux.
Once he finds the doctor, Rambert confesses that he would feel ashamed if he left the town. He no longer feels like a stranger; he knows now that the plague is "everybody’s business."
He admits that he canceled his escape plans before he came to the hospital to talk to Rieux.
According to Tarrou’s journal, Rambert visits the stadium-turned-isolation camp with Gonzales and him (Tarrou).
Since he’s given up trying to escape, Rambert resorts to writing (illegal) letters to his "wife" in Paris.
When everyone is celebrating the recession of the plague, Rambert, along with Tarrou and Rieux, can’t help but recognize those who are still grieving and cannot rejoice.
Rambert anticipates his wife’s impending arrival and finds that he has to shake off his detachment to feel joy at their reunion.
After she arrives, he strolls about the streets with his "wife" along with many other recently reunited couples.