What is Rieux's place in the story The Plague? What is he supposed to portray?
Rieux is the narrator of the story, although he does not reveal this to the reader until the end. He disguises his role, speaking of himself in the third person throughout the bulk of the narrative, which appears to be told by an unnamed narrator who is relating what he has learned from others. The reason Rieux takes this detached approach is to portray objectivity; with the tone of an impartial observer, he reports events without analyzing the thoughts and feelings associated with them. He takes the position of an historian in his presentation.
Rieux's character attributes are consistent with his chosen narrative style. He is a doctor who does all he can to fight the plague and alleviate its pain and suffering, but he does so simply because it is his job; it is what he does. He consciously distances himself from the pathos of his victims' situations, and does not strive with lofty ideals in mind. He is practical and efficient, and does what needs to be done, despite the fact that in the final analysis, he will not be able to defeat the ultimate enemy, death.