AP English: Literature and Composition
Name: Major Works Data Sheet: Do not cut/paste from a website, which is a form of plagiarism.
Title: THE STRANGER
Biographical information about the author: Author: Albert Camus Albert Camus was born in French colonial Date of Publication: 1942 Algiers. His father was killed in WWI, and he, his brother, mother, grandmother, and Genre: Absurdist Fiction paralyzed uncle all shared a two bedroom apartment. Despite his impoverished Historical information about the period of upbringing, he attended the University of publication or setting of the novel: Algiers, but was forced to drop out due to tuberculosis. During wartime in Paris, he While in wartime Paris, Camus developed his philosophy of the absurd. A major component of this developed his philosophy of absurdism. philosophy was Camus’s assertion that life has no rational or redeeming meaning. The experience of World War II led many other intellectuals to similar conclusions. Faced with the horrors of Hitler’s Nazi regime and the unprecedented slaughter of the War, many could no longer accept that human existence had any purpose or discernible meaning. Existence Characteristics of the genre: Often, literature of the absurd will contain seemed simply, to use Camus’s term, absurd. elements that make no rational sense, such as meaningless dialogue, mundane repetition, circular or pointless plots, situations that are confusing and purposeless, and characters, plots, or any other element that lacks logical order or reason. Plot Summary: Do not cut/paste from a website, which is a form of plagiarism. The protagonist is a young man named Meursault. Right before the beginning of the book, he receives a telegram informing him that his mother has died. After the funeral, he returns to Algiers. He meanders around for a while, and meets an attractive ex-‐co-‐worker named Marie. They go to see a movie together, and then she comes home with him. The next day he meets Salamano, a man who is always abusing his wretch of a dog. A man named Raymond (who is rumored to be a pimp) invites him over to dinner and asks Meursault to write a threatening letter to a woman of his who left him and disrespected him. Later, Marie visits him. She asks whether Meursault loves her or not. He replies that it didn’t mean anything, but “probably not.” They hear a commotion, and they look down the hall to see Raymond being dragged out of his apartment for beating his woman. Raymond asks Meursault to be a witness for him in court, and Meursault agrees. That same night, Salamano informs him that his dog has run away. Next time they meet, Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her. He says he doesn’t care, but that they can get married if she wants.
Major Works Data Sheet
Memorable Quotes at least 3 – more is better Quotation
"So why marry me, then?" she said. I explained to her that it didn’t really matter and that if she wanted to, we could get married. […] Then she pointed out that marriage was a serious thing. I said, "No."
This quote demonstrates Meursault’s feelings of isolation and apathy. He is so far lost in his own little world that even a marriage proposal from a beautiful woman doesn’t interest him. Indeed, it doesn’t mean anything at all to him. He is perfectly content to just let the world wash over him like a wave on a beach, letting his life fade in and out…
It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed.
Meursault demonstrates his remorseless side. It is quite remarkable how apathetic he is. He almost defends his lack of grief: nothing has changed, what is there to feel sad about?
I couldn’t understand why they had taken [the cigarettes] away when they didn’t hurt anybody. Later on I realized that that too was part of the punishment. But by then I had gotten used to not smoking and it wasn’t a punishment anymore.
It is very difficult to reprimand someone like Meursault. He is stubborn (though in a passive way) and is content to be just about anywhere. He gets used to anything, and since he comes to peace with the world and his death, his execution is not really a punishment either.
She said, "If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church." She was right. There was no way out.
This statement is symbolic of the human condition. Just like the sun, death is inescapable. The only way out (of the possible misery the thought brings) is to accept it.
I tried my best to please Raymond because I didn’t have any reason not to please him.
A commentary on Meursault’s apathy. “Why not?” seems to be the answer to every other question life sends his way.
Major Works Data Sheet
Role in the story
He is Camus’ champion of absurdity. Over the course of the book, he realizes that the world is absurd, and there’s nothing he can do but accept it.
Indifferent; Apathetic; Introspective; Deliberate, yet not so.
She is a contrast and a foil to Meursault’s character, a light and virtually carefree individual.
Simple; Undemanding; Sexual; Guileless.
Salamano (and his dog)
Salamano and his dog are the only characters that are in a genuine relationship. Furthermore, they serve to remind us of death.
Wretched; Cranky; Miserable; Old.
Raymond serves to create much of the action that occurs in The Stranger. He asks Meursault to write a letter to his girlfriend for him, hands him the gun the former uses to shoot the Arabs, and finally, on the witness stand, blurts out that Meursault is innocent.
Dirty; Sneaky; Chauvinistic; Violent; Insecure; Tough Guy.
The Chaplain’s role is to prod Meursault until he bursts out in his declaration of enlightenment about the world.
Major Works Data Sheet Setting The Stranger takes place in 1940s Algiers, part of the French colony of Algeria. The colony was made up of both Frenchmen and Arabs, though the French were considered superior citizens. Meursault works as a shipping clerk for a company there. Most of the action takes place in the city, but he does leave to go see his mother’s funeral in a town about an hour away.
Page 4 Significance of the opening scene The opening scene shows several striking examples of Meursault’s apathy. He smokes at his mother’s funeral and refuses to shed a tear. Most of the time is passed in dull, thoughtless, reverie. The very next day, he meets a girl, hits on her, and goes to a comedy flick.
Symbols or Motifs (at least three)
Significance of the ending / closing scene
The Sun/Weather: These forces represent Meursault’s nature, and his behavior tends to be dictated by physical needs and desires. Color: Green seems to symbolize happiness, as it is in scenes where Meursault is content. Red seems to be equated with violence and/or sex. The Courtroom: The courtroom represents society’s attempts to rationalize an irrational and meaningless world, and the forced morality thereof. Laughter and Swimming: These elements remind us that Meursault is human. He is strangely attracted to laughter, and loves to swim. These thoroughly mundane pursuits keep him on an understandable plane.
On what is presumably the day before his execution, Meursault wakes up and “smells the taffy.” He realizes that he reckon with his impending death, and empties himself of all expectation and hope. In doing this, he frees himself of worry and accepts his death with gentle peace.
Possible Themes – (elaborate) minimum of 3, evidence is optional, but suggested Passivity/The Absurd/Mortality/Isolation 1. Mortality- “She said, "If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church." She was right. There was no way out.” (Camus, 16) 2. Isolation- “On their way out, and much to my surprise, they all shook my hand – as if that night during which we hadn’t exchanged as much as a single word had somehow brought us closer together.” (Camus, 11) 3. Sadness-I told her Maman had died. She wanted to know how long ago, so I said, "Yesterday." She gave a little start but didn’t say anything. I felt like telling her it wasn’t my fault, but I stopped myself because I remembered that I’d already said that to my boss. It didn’t mean anything. Besides, you always feel a little guilty. (Camus, 19)