The Stranger Albert Camus 1942 English 12 Setting • Time Period: Modern • Significance: The setting • Locations: Meursault’s home plays an important role in in Alger, Algeria; The old Meursault’s environment folk’s home in Marengo; The because the world around Beach; Jail cell. him affects his actions. He is • Social context: Middle class. very descriptive when speaking about his • Takes place over a period of surroundings. several years. Speaker The Speaker is Meursault The diction is very informal because the story is told from Meursault’s point of view. The reader is exposed to Meursault’s thoughts and feelings, and the fact that Meursault himself isn’t very well spoken contributes to this effect. Camus uses Meursault to achieve his desired effect with Meursault’s great attention to detail and the significance of physical influences. Also Meursault’s indifference and lack of motivation. Repetition and Tone • Repetition: A repeated idea • Tone: Through Meursault’s in the novel is the character, Camus is making significance of heat and light a statement about the ideas of existentialism and • Example: When he shoots absurdism. the Arab the sun is burning and shining intensely upon • As a result, the tone of the him, affecting his thoughts novel is very passive but and judgment. also complex. Genre • The genre of The Stranger is realistic fiction and also drama. • It is realistic fiction because although it is not based on true events, the situations could logically occur. • It is a dramatic piece of literature because there are aspects of suspense and confliction. Period • It was written in the 1940s. • As a result of the fight for • During this time WWII was power and shifts in affecting Europe. government existentialism • In 1940, France surrendered became a prevalent belief to Nazi Germany, and during France’s troubled Germany occupied 3/5 of times. France’s territory. • • Literary trends of the time included existentialism and personal freedom. Meursault can be compared to a dog in the fact that he reacts mainly to physical influences and rarely to emotional ones. He does not judge strangers in the way that most humans would; if a stranger is kind to him, he is open to them. But, if they pose a threat, his animal-like instincts tell him to be cautious. Albert Camus • He was born November 7, 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria. • He experienced a poor childhood and suffered from tuberculosis. • He was a member of the French Communist Party. • In 1940 he married Francine Faure and had two children, Catherine and Jean. • He didn’t like the idea of marriage, but he loved his wife. He had several affairs. • He supported the philosophy of Absurdism. • The public often associated him with the idea of existentialism, but he rejected the label. • He was a pacifist; he disagreed with the idea of capital punishment. • In 1949 he formed a Revolutionary Union Movement. • In 1957, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. • Albert Camus died January 4, 1960 in a car accident. Plot • Meursault’s mother dies, he attends her funeral • He reunites with Marie • He encounters Salamano and his mangy dog • Meursault dines with Raymond and writes Raymond’s letter • Meursault and Marie witness Raymond abusing his girlfriend • Meursault, Marie and Raymond go to the Masson’s beach house • Conflict with the Arabs; Meursault kills the Arabic man • Meursault is arrested for murdering the Arab • Meursault goes to jail • Meursault meets with the magistrate and speak about religion • Meursault is tried for his crime; he is sentenced to death • Meursault is visited by the chaplain, and proceeds to attack him • In his final moments, Meursault accepts the fact that he must die and finally ponders his existence Literary Elements • Characterization: Because the readers are exposed to all of Meursault’s thoughts, feelings and actions, his character is one of the most important aspects of the novel. “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to. Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn’t mean anything but that I probably didn’t love her,” (Camus 41). This excerpt reveals the indifference that characterizes Meursaults entire life, in all of his endeavors. • Diction: The fact that the novel is written as a constant stream of consciousness provides a very informal diction. Because we experience only what Meursault experiences limits our knowledge, creating a complex and puzzling effect. “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday,” (Camus 3). • Symbolism: This novel is riddled with symbolism. An example of this symbolism is the nurse without a nose at the old people’s home: “…I looked over at the nurse and saw that she had a bandage wrapped around her head just below the eyes. Where her nose should have been, the bandage was flat. All you could see of her face was the whiteness of the bandage,” (Camus 7). This nurse represents the importance of emotional senses, while Meursault is the epitome of physical senses. In this way, the nurse is a foil to Meursault. Characters • Meursault • Significant Relationships: • Maman Meursault and Marie’s relationship is puzzling to the • Raymond readers, for they enjoy each other's company, but • Celeste their love is questionable. Marie is in love with Meursault, but Meursault doesn’t express those types • The Director of feelings. • Caretaker Meursault and Raymond’s relationship is somewhat • Marie superficial. They are friends, but there is no deep • Arabs connection or understanding between them. • Masson Meursault simply conforms to what Raymond does • Salamano and thinks, emphasizing Meursualt’s lack of conviction. Raymond’s negative relationship with the Arabs leads to the conflicts faced by Meursault. Their issues cause the encounter between Meursault and the Arab at the beach, as well as the subsequent murder. Theme The overall theme of The Stranger relates to the ideas of Absurdism and Existentialism; through Meursault’s character Camus confronts the definition of existence and how life has no immediate purpose.
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