The Stranger by Albert Camus

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Summary: The Stranger by Albert Camus is a story of an ordinary man, Monsieur Meursault, who "unwittingly" gets involved in a murder of an Arabian man on a beach in Algiers. "Camus explored what he termed 'the nakedness of man faced with the absurd'".


  • Monsieur Meursault
  • Maman - Monsieur Meursault's mother that passed away
  • Marie Cardona - typist from Monsieu Meursault's office and his infatuation
  • Raymond Sintes - Monsieur Meursault's other neighbor, a "warehouse guard"

Supporting Characters:

  • Monsieur Perez - Maman's friend
  • The director of the old folks home
  • The nurse of the old folks home
  • The caretaker of the old folks home
  • Emmanuel - dispatcher from Monsieur Meursault's workplace and friend of Monsieur Meursault
  • Celeste - the owner of the restaurant "Celeste's"
  • Salamano - owns a Spaniel and is Monsieur Meursault's neighbor
  • Masson - Raymond Sintes' friend
  • Masson's Parisian wife
  • The magistrate
  • Monsieur Meursault's Lawyer
  • The reporter

Part One, Chapter One

  • Maman dies at a old folks home in Marengo
  • Monsieur Meursault apologizes to his boss for his mother's death but in reality his boss should have given condolences
  • Monsieur Meursault says to his boss that it is "not his fault" that his mother died
  • At first it was like Maman never died
  • The director of the old folks home was supportive and told Monsieur Meursault that he did not have to "justify" himself for Madame Meursault's admittance into the old folks for three years
  • The director also tells Monsieur Meursault that Madame Meursault had friends there and that they could talk about the "old" days
  • It was hard for Monsieur Meursault to visit so in the last year he visited less
  • Even though Maman had not been religious, she had requested a religious burial
  • The caretaker offered to take off the cover to the casket, but Monsieur Meursault did not want to look at his mother for an unknown reason
  • The caretaker was from Paris and said that in Paris they kept vigil over the body for up to four days which Monsieur Meursault found "interesting"
  • Because he became destitute, the caretaker started work at the home and called the old people at the home "they", "the others" and "the old people"
  • When the nurse came into the room where Maman was, he was offered coffee and a chance to smoke which at first he didn't want to do in front of his mother, however, they did
  • Monsieur Meursault felt as though he was being judged by Maman's friends
  • One of Maman's friends sobbed and said that Maman was her only friend
  • Before dawn, everyone fell asleep except for one man who stared at Monsieur Meursault
  • Without many words, everyone shook Monsieur Meursault's hand and somehow everyone was brought closer together without a "single word"
  • Monsieur Perez was Maman's very close friend
  • He remembered "several images" from that day including the nurse's note about the weather, Monsieur Perez catching up with the funeral procession, the covering of Maman with "blood-red earth", waiting at the cafe, people and voices, bus ride to Algiers and the rest at home

Part One, Chapter Two

  • Monsieur Meursault wakes up and says it's not his fault that Maman was buried yesterday instead of today
  • Monsieur Meursault goes to take a swim and runs into his former crush, Marie Cardona in which he has sexual relations
  • Monsieur Meursault explains to Marie Cardona that Maman had passed away and by night she had forgotten about it
  • It was Sunday when Monsieur Meursault awoke and he remembered that he didn't like Sundays
  • The place that he lived felt too large when Maman was not there
  • From an old newspaper Monsieur Meursault he cuts out an ad for "Kruschen Salts" and put it in his old notebook where he puts things from papers
  • Monsieur Meursault noticed the goings on this Sunday including what gangs, families, soccer fans, women and restaurants were doing
  • Monsieur Meursault also noticed the weather and the time as it passed
  • After Maman had passed, he new the next day he had to go back to work, another Sunday had passed and nothing had changed

Part One, Chapter Three

  • When Monsieur Meursault returned to work, his boss was nice and considered the matter closed about Maman after asking about her age
  • Monsieur Meursault left work with Emmanuel who was a dispatcher at work
  • When they arrive at Celeste's, Celeste asks Monsieur Meursault if things "were alright now" and he said yes they were
  • Monsieur Meursault spent the afternoon working and he walked past the docks and thought about making potatoes
  • Monsieur Meursault runs into his neighbor, Salamano who has an interesting love hate relationship with his dog and often hits his dog for sometimes unknown reasons
  • Monsieur Meursault runs into his other neighbor, Raymond Sintes, who lives off of women and is always sharply dressed
  • Raymond explains how he was probably being cheated on and that he wanted to "punish" the girl whom he had been seeing
  • Monsieur Meursault found her name to sound Moorish
  • Raymond now considers Monsieur Meursault a "pal" and says that "men always understand each other"

Part One, Chapter Four

  • Monsieur Meursault gets the word that Raymond sent the letter
  • Monsieur Meursault spends time at the movies with Emmanuel
  • Monsieur Meursault spends the day with Marie at the beach and his room
  • There was an argument between woman and Raymond which drew a cop to Raymond's room
  • Monsieur Meursault said he didn't like cops and didn't call one when he heard Raymond hitting the woman
  • Raymond asked Monsieur Meursault to act as a witness for him and Monsieur Meursault agreed to say that the woman cheated on him
  • Salamano loses his dog and when Monsieur Meursault asks him where his dog is he says that he is "gone"
  • Salamano asks Monsieur Meursault if they were going to take his dog away from him and Monsieur Meursault says that the pound would hold him for three days and then do what they will with him
  • After saying "good night", Salamano goes to his room and cries about his dog
  • Monsieur Meursault thought about Maman

Part One, Chapter Five

  • Raymond is shadowed by a group of Arabs and he asks Monsieur Meursault to watch out for the one that was his mistress' brother
  • Monsieur Meursault is invited to a beach house near Algiers with his girlfriend
  • Monsieur Meursault's boss asks him if he wants to move to Paris and do some traveling, but Monsieur Meursault says it's all the same to him although he did have such ambitions when he was younger
  • After telling Monsieur Meursault boss that he would not be interested, his boss seemed upset and said that Monsieur Meursault never gave him a straight answer which was bad for business
  • Marie asks Monsieur Meursault to marry him and asks if he loved her and he said that he probably did not love her and that he would marry her
  • Monsieur Meursault asks Marie how she felt about moving to Paris and she said she would although it was not really an attractive place to Monsieur Meursault
  • Marie asks if Monsieur Meursault wanted to know why he wasn't interested in knowing what she was doing that she couldn't go to dinner with him and he was indifferent
  • Monsieur Meursault has dinner with a girl that walks into Celeste's and that has a robotic, "peculiar" way about her
  • Salamano and Monsieur Meursault talk for a bit about Salamano's lost dog in which Monsieur Meursault says that the dog was well bread and Salamano says that the dog's real sickness is old age.
  • Salamano knew that Monsieur Meursault loved Maman very much and that sending her to the home was the right thing to do because she would be lonely at home and that she would make new friends at the home
  • Salamano's life changed at the lost of his dog, offered for the first time his hand to Monsieur Meursault and said "I hope the dogs don't bark tonight. I always think it's mine"

Part One, Chapter Six

  • Arabs follow Raymond around after Raymond went to the police to make a report for his fight with his mistress
  • Monsieur Meursault testified that Raymond's mistress had cheated on him
  • Raymond, Marie and Monsieur Meursault go to the beach house of Raymond's friend, Masson
  • Masson's wife was Parisian and during the time that she was laughing with Monsieur Meursault's girlfriend, Monsieur Meursault thinks about marriage for the first time
  • Marie and Monsieur Meursault swim way out in the water and feel a closeness in unity and happiness
  • Masson told his wife that he likes him
  • Marie and Monsieur Meursault fall deeper into emotion for each other
  • Raymond and Masson talked about things Monsieur Meursault knew nothing about which suggests that "they'd known each other for a long time"
  • There was a skirmish with the Arabs at the beach and Raymond was hurt, however, Monsieur Meursault did not want to explain to the women what happened
  • Monsieur Meursault shoots "Raymond's man" with the revolver 5 times and after his first shot it was like "knocking four times on the door of unhappiness"
  • Monsieur Meursault had gone to where "Raymond's man" without "even thinking about it

Part Two, Chapter One

  • After Monsieur Meursault's arrest he is questioned both in the police station and by the magistrate.
  • Monsieur Meursault thought the case would be simple and he would not require the assistance of a lawyer, although if did not have a lawyer the court would appoint one
  • A finely dressed lawyer came to visit Monsieur Meursault at his prison and said that Monsieur Meursault would win the case if he listened
  • Monsieur Meursault was asked by his lawyer if he felt any sadness at Maman's funeral and he said that he lost interest in analyzing himself, also, that he believed that most people wished their loved ones dead now and again
  • Monsieur Meursault said to his lawyer that he would rather that Maman didn't die
  • Monsieur Meursault said that he wanted to defend himself in a "natural" way
  • Monsieur Meursault's lawyer did not show for the second questioning by the magistrate and he said that he could answer for himself
  • Monsieur Meursault was asked by the magistrate if he loved Maman and he responded by saying that he loved her as much as anyone
  • Monsieur Meursault was asked if he believed in God, he said that he did not and that he would not put his trust in him
  • Monsieur Meursault was more annoyed than sorry that he had shot someone
  • When Monsieur Meursault was again questioned by the magistrate with his lawyer present, he felt a natural process as if he was "one of the family"
  • The judge would on rare occasions end sessions by saying to Monsieur Meursault "That's all for today, Monsieur Antichrist"

Part Two, Chapter Two

  • When a few Arabs laughed that Monsieur Meursault was in prison, they asked him what he was in for and he responded by saying that he killed an Arab
  • Marie was no longer allowed to visit Monsieur Meursault anymore while he was in prison because she was not his wife and he started to write her things that he never liked talking about
  • Raymond sent his regards to Monsieur Meursault
  • At first Monsieur Meursault thought that he was like a man living in a hollow tree trunk looking up at the sky passing by, but then he realized that there were many worse off than he
  • He remembered one of Maman's ideas that "after a while you can get used to anything"
  • Monsieur Meursault missed women, thought about them constantly and even talked to the head guard about women
  • Monsieur Meursault also missed smoking which at first was a punishment but then he got used to not smoking and then it wasn't a punishment anymore
  • While in prison Monsieur Meursault learned to remember great detail about things such as his room and it would help him pass time
  • Monsieur Meursault slept 16 - 18 hrs a day which left him 6 hrs to eat, use the bathroom, memories, and the story about the Czechoslovakian
  • The story of the Czechoslovakian reminded Monsieur Meursault to never play games
  • Because days were both long and short to Monsieur Meursault, only "tomorrow" and "yesterday" had meaning to him
  • Monsieur Meursault thought about his voice and realized that he had been talking to himself in prison after five months
  • Monsieur Meursault thought about prison, that there was no way out and no one could imagine how prison nights were

Part Two, Chapter Three

  • The press blew up Monsieur Meursault's story because the summer was slow as far as news was concerned
  • In court, Monsieur Meursault sized up the court as they sized him up and were looking for something "funny" about him
  • Monsieur Meursault's lawyer said to be brief about his answers and to leave the rest to his lawyer
  • The following people showed up to Monsieur Meursault's trial: the director and caretaker of the home, Thomas Perez, Raymond, Masson, Salamano,Celeste, the little woman from Celeste's and Marie
  • Monsieur Meursault was irritated by the questions of his mother and personal questions such as age, name and place of birth
  • Monsieur Meursault said that the murder "just happened that way" with no intent on wanting to kill the Arab
  • As a witness, the director of the home said that Monsieur Meursault did not grieve for Maman
  • Monsieur Meursault had the "stupid" urge to cry when he felt like that all "these" people hated him
  • Monsieur Meursault admitted to offering the caretaker a cigarette and the caretaker, the stranger, admitted to offering Monsieur Meursault coffee of which the prosecuter said that he should have refused since Monsieur Meursault was the son of Maman
  • When Thomas Perez was asked if he saw Monsieur Meursault cry or not cry, he said "no" in both instances and the lawyer of Monsieur Meursault said that "everything was true and nothing was true" in the trial
  • Celeste said that this murder was bad luck and Monsieur Meursault wanted to kiss him for trying to say something positive in Monsieur Meursault's defense
  • When Marie was done being examined in court, it had looked like Monsieur Meursault went out in town with her and didn't care about Maman dying
  • "Hardly anyone" listened to Salamano or Masson and Salamano said many times that "you must understand"
  • Raymond said that Monsieur Meursault and he were pals
  • The prosecuter pointed out that the day after Maman's death Monsieur Meursault indulged in "debauchery" and killed the Arab man for trivial reasons
  • Monsieur Meursault new he was in trouble when the prosecutor exclaimed "I accuse this man of burying his mother with crime in his heart"
  • When court adjourned, he noticed all the sounds that he loved in the summer evening
  • He went back to his cell to wait for the next day "as if familiar paths traced in summer skies could lead as easily to prison as to sleep of the innocent"

Part Two, Chapter Four

  • Monsieur Meursault felt like court proceedings were taking place without his participation especially with his lawyer telling him to keep quiet
  • Monsieur Meursault felt also that what the prosecutor was saying in his summation about Monsieur Meursault's was plausible
  • The prosecutor stressed that Monsieur Meursault was intelligent and that the murder was premeditated and that he knew what he was doing
  • The prosecutor talked about Monsieur Meursault's soul and said that Monsieur Meursault didn't have one
  • Monsieur Meursault thought about how "an ordinary man's good qualities" could be a crushing accusation against a guilty man
  • At a point when the magistrate asked Monsieur Meursault if he had anything to add, Monsieur Meursault told the court that he did not have the intent to murder the Arab although he blamed the sun for his motives
  • Monsieur Meursault's lawyer takes Monsieur Meursault out of the loop by using "I" in court as if to replace Monsieur Meursault with the lawyer
  • Monsieur Meursault's lawyer takes the time to say positive things about Monsieur Meursault's soul
  • Monsieur Meursault thought of his lasting joys and at the end of court he was much too tired to appreciate the speech that his lawyer gave on his behalf
  • The judge told Monsieur Meursault in a "bizarre language" that he was to have his head chopped off in the town square "in the name of the French people"
  • Monsieur Meursault was taken away after the judge asked him if he had anything else to add in which he replied "no"

Part Two, Chapter Five

  • Monsieur Meursault denied seeing the chaplain and thought about escaping the "machinery of justice" and the "inevitable"
  • Monsieur Meursault thought of how to rearrange the penal code so that the "patient" had a chance using a batch of chemicals that were to be ingested which nine out of ten times would result in death but would give the "patient" a chance
  • The guillotine gave the person no chance and in the event of mechanical failure the executioner would just start over
  • Monsieur Meursault envisioned once that the guillotine was a precise machine in which you had to climb stairs to a scaffold when in reality it was a simple machine on the same level as the person approaching it
  • Monsieur Meursault was always thinking about two things: his appeal and dawn
  • Monsieur Meursault remembered that Maman used to say that there was always something to be happy about and then he was happy that he had another twenty-four hours
  • Monsieur Meursault thought of his appeal and in the end we all were going to die and it didn't matter when because he would be the one dying in any case
  • Thinking about Marie became fruitless and Monsieur Meursault knew that others would forget about him when he passed
  • Monsieur Meursault was not interested in God and said he did not have time to become interested in something that he wasn't interest in
  • The chaplain asked him if he believed that when u die you die and Monsieur Meursault said "yes"
  • Nothing mattered anymore to Monsieur Meursault
  • For the first time in a long time Monsieur Meursault thought of Maman
  • Monsieur Meursault would feel less alone if there was a large crowd to greet him at his execution with cries of hate

Other Notes:

  • Translated by Matthew Ward for the American audience
  • Published by Vintage International

© 2009 copyright The Stranger | Albert Camus