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The Stranger

Albert Camus

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  The Stranger or L’étranger

author  · Albert Camus

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Existential novel; crime drama

language  · French

time and place written  · Early 1940s, France

date of first publication  ·  1942

publisher  · Librairie Gallimard, France

narrator  · In Part One, Meursault narrates the events of the story almost as they happen. In Part Two, he narrates the events of his trial from jail, then moves into a more immediate narration in Chapter 5.

point of view  · Meursault narrates in the first person and limits his account to his own thoughts and perceptions. His description of the other characters is entirely subjective—that is, he does not attempt to portray them in a neutral light or to understand their thoughts and feelings.

tone  · Detached, sober, plain, at times subtly ironic

tense  · Shifts between immediate past (or real-time narration) and more distant past, with occasional instances where Meursault speaks in the present tense.

setting (time)  · Slightly before World War II

setting (place)  · Algeria

protagonist  · Meursault

major conflict  · After committing murder, Meursault struggles against society’s attempts to manufacture and impose rational explanations for his attitudes and actions. This struggle is embodied by Meursault’s battle with the legal system that prosecutes him.

rising action  · Meursault relationship with Marie, his involvement in Raymond’s affairs, his trip to Masson’s beach house, and his taking of Raymond’s gun are the choices Meursault makes that lead up to his killing of the Arab.

climax  · Meursault shoots a man, known as “the Arab,” for no apparent reason.

falling action  · Meursault is arrested for murder, jailed, tried in court, and sentenced to death. He then has an epiphany about “the gentle indifference of the world” after arguing with the chaplain about God’s existence.

themes  · The irrationality of the universe; the meaninglessness of human life; the importance of the physical world

motifs  · Decay and death; watching and observation

symbols  · The courtroom; the crucifix

foreshadowing  · Madame Meursault’s friends watching Meursault foreshadows the jury’s watching him in judgment.

More Help

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Meursault`s Morality

by I dont need a bluddy nick name, March 21, 2013

This Spark Note describes Meursault as being amoral. I completely disagree with this interpretation. It is not that Meursault does not understand right and wrong but rather that his ideas of right and wrong differ from those of society. This different moral code can be seen by the way he refuses to break his own morals. He may not value life but he does value honesty and his disbelief in a higher being. Throughout the book he never lies or pretends to have faith in God not even to save his life. His specific moral code is founded in Camus` ... Read more

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189 out of 210 people found this helpful

Morality in 'The Stranger'

by dmborong, April 11, 2013

Albert Camus' idea of morality in 'The Stranger' is completely unconventional and this can be seen through the protagonist who is a total embarrassment to the society in which he finds himself. This disparity between what is expected of Meursault and what he displays forms the basis of Albert Camus' philosophy of morality. There is a big question mark on conventional morality which the author finds to be absurd. He seems to be questioning the fabric of societal morality on grounds of motivation; are some of those values upheld merely for con... Read more

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32 out of 39 people found this helpful

Response to No-Bloody-Nickname

by OverseasTeacher, April 29, 2013

Morality is simply the way that an individual chooses between opposing values in a given situation.

So, lets say "Prolife" vs "Prochoice" as a moral issue. Regardless of your position, you are pushing values. The question isn't "is a fetus valuable?" or "is a woman's right to choose what happens to her body valuable?"

The vast majority of the world would answer yes to both. No, the question is... "which is more valuable if you can't have both?"

In this way, morality requires an active decision making.

This is wher

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4 out of 4 people found this helpful

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