Albert Camus : The Stranger

The Life of Albert Camus

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Albert Camus was born on November 7, 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria. Camus lived in Algeria until he was the age of twenty five, when he moved to Paris, France. He used a lot of experience in Algeria in the books and essays in which he wrote. Albert lost his father when he was a year old leaving him to his deaf and illiterate mother. Camus attended the University of Algiers where he studied Greek Literature, poetry, and philosophy. Joined a resistance movement during the occupation. Camus was also very active in the theatre as a producer and playwrite. Wrote the book L'Etranger in 1942 that was later translated to what we know as The Stranger. "He was a stylist of great purity and intense concentration and rationally." Albert Camus ended up dying on January 4, 1960 in a car accident on his way in to Paris.

Plot Overview/Summary

Mr. Meursault is a young man living in a place Called Algiers. He recieves a telegram(letter) of his mothers death and leaves to the elderly home in Marengo. There he attends a Vigil and funeral where he emotionlessly leaves his last respects to his mother. Meursault ends up meeting up with his old co worker Marie and starts to romanticly see her again. They go out on dates and start to get more involved. Meursault watches as old man Salamano abuses his dog when he runs into his neighbor Raymond who is considered the local pimp. Meursault seems to get caught up with Raymonds affairs quite frequently which leads to him killing a man and ending up in jail. Meursaults trail doesn't quite go the way in which anyone plans. Meursault gets the death pentalty when then does he realize the "indifference of the world" which makes him happy.


Meursault- The main character and also the narrator of the story. Meursault is what one to be considered detached person. He see's and views everything in his life from a standstill. Meursault is emotionally different from anyone and everyone even that of his own mother and girlfriend Marie. He doesn't accept the morals of human society very well leading him to kill a man known to be Raymond's mistress's brother. he is put on trial where it goes from just being a murder trial to Meursaults beliefs and his attitude towards life. Considered a social outcast.
Marie Cardona- A former co-worker of Meursaults. She begins to become meursaults lover the day after his mothers funeral. Marie is high spirited enjoys swimming and is young. Marie feels that the only reason that Meursault is with her is because of her physical beauty. She doesn't seem to understand Meaursault in the least but she is drawn to his peculiarities. Still wants to be Meursaults wife after he gets arrested and shows his indifference towards marriage.
Raymond Sintes- Considered to be the local pimp. Raymond is also Meursault. Raymond becomes irate when he learns that his mistress is cheating on him so he comes up with a plan to punish her which requires Meursault's help. The opposite of Meursault; Raymond behaves completely with emotion and initative. Raymond is also a very violent person which in turn leads to him to beating mistress along with two Arabs (one of which Meurasut kills. Appears to be using Meursault because he can be coned easily into his schemes but turns to show great loyalty towards him during his trial.
Celeste- The owner of a cafe where Meursault sits to eat his lunch quite Frequently. Celeste also keeps his friendship and loyalty to Meursault quite tight with him while Meursault is on trial. Testifie's that Meursault is a decent and honest man. Celeste also states that Meursault had no rational cause for killing the Arab that it was just a case of bad luck.
Masson- One of Raymonds friends who casually invites Raymond, Meursault and Marie over to his house to spend a Sunday at his house with him and his wife. Sadly it was during this trip away where Meursault ends up killing the Arab. Masson to testifies on Meursault's behalf during his trial.
Salamano- A crappy old man who is a neighbor of Meursault. Salamono owns a dog that suffers from Mange. Salamono is always cursing at and beating his dog. Unforunately after Salamoano's dog runs away he crys and awaits his dogs return. His strong grief for his dog reminds Meursault of that of his mothers death.
The Prosecutor- The lawyer who argues with Meursault about his case during the trial. The prosecutor believes that Meursault is nothing of that of a monster who is emotionless. He believes that Meursault is a threat to society and deserves the death penalty.
The Caretaker- One of the workers at the Elderly home where Meursault's mother spent three years of her life prior to the day of her death. During the the vigil Meursault and the caretaker chat. They drink coffee and smoke cigarettes next to Meursaults mother's coffin all night.
The Examining Magistrate- Questions Meursault several times after his arrest. Is deeply disturbed by Meursaults lack of emotion over his mothers death. Feels the meaning of his life is threatened by Meursault's lack of belief in God.
Thomas Perez- A friend of Meursaults mother. Has become inseparable with Madame Meursault. Also one of the residents at the Elderly home. Other residents at the home use to make jokes about the two getting engaged.
The Chaplain- Acts as a catalyst for Meursaults psychological and philosophical development. Meursault refuses to see the Chaplain after he is found guilty to premeditated murder but the Chaplain goes to see him anyway. Demands that Meursault takes comfort in god but Meursault refuses and says that life is meaningless and that all men are to die

Literay Criticism

"Classical work in the mode of Voltaire's philosophical tales"
"A procession of events linked only by chronology." R. Barton Palmer

Personal Review

I think that The Stranger is defianately a book full of mystery and misunderstanding towards a lot of things/people within it. Confusing as it may be I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read books full of suspense and mystery. It is also a good choice to read for people who aren't interested in 20 chapter books. It'll keep you hooked until the very end.


Irrationality of the Universe

The stranger relates to how Albert Camus "asserts that the human exisitence in general has no rational meaning or order." People have to find a meaning for existence due to the lack of it.


Literary Masters vol 8. pg 86 -Catherine Savage Brosman