The civil servant is fiftyish, tall, and bent. He leads a dreary, quiet life until the plague seals off Oran from the outside world. Until then, he spends his free time polishing the first sentence of a prose-perfect book he dreams of writing. Stacks of scribbled pages do not deter him. He persists in writing and listening to the sense and the sound of his sentence number one and continues to fail. He has already failed to make a respectable income and also to hold together a marriage with a woman whom he is now sure he loved deeply. But however odd and eccentric he seems, he is among the first to volunteer to help fight the plague that threatens Oran. He contracts the disease, but recovers. Rieux had remarked offhandedly earlier in the book that he is the insignificant type that often escapes such disasters. The chronicle does not prove this though. Grand survives, not escapes. In the emergency, he reacted instinctively, doing his meager best to defend his city, and during this period of trial he gained an insight into his writing project and into the reasons why his marriage failed.