The Stranger

by: Albert Camus

Raymond Sintes

Raymond acts as a catalyst to The Stranger’s plot. After Raymond beats and abuses his mistress, he comes into conflict with her brother, an Arab. Raymond draws Meursault into conflict with “the Arab,” and eventually Meursault kills the Arab in cold blood. By drawing Meursault into the conflict that eventually results in Meursault’s death sentence, Raymond, in a sense, causes Meursault’s downfall. This responsibility on Raymond’s part is symbolized by the fact that he gives Meursault the gun that Meursault later uses to kill the Arab. However, because the murder and subsequent trial bring about Meursault’s realization of the indifference of the universe, Raymond can also be seen as a catalyst of Meursault’s “enlightenment.”

Because Raymond’s character traits contrast greatly with Meursault’s, he also functions as a foil for Meursault. Whereas Meursault is simply amoral, Raymond is clearly immoral. Raymond’s treatment of his mistress is violent and cruel, and he nearly kills the Arab himself before Meursault talks him out of it. Additionally, whereas Meursault passively reacts to the events around him, Raymond initiates action. He invites Meursault to dinner and to the beach, and he seeks out the Arabs after his first fight with them.

A good deal of ambiguity exists in Raymond’s relationship with Meursault. On the one hand, Raymond uses Meursault. He easily convinces Meursault to help him in his schemes to punish his mistress, and to testify on his behalf at the police station. On the other hand, Raymond seems to feel some loyalty toward Meursault. He asserts Meursault’s innocence at the murder trial, attributing the events leading up to the killing to “chance.” It is possible that Raymond begins his relationship with Meursault intending only to use him, and then, like Marie, becomes drawn to Meursault’s peculiarities.