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The Stranger

The Stranger

by Albert Camus

Tools of Characterization

Character Analysis

Family Life

The relationship between Meursault and Maman before her death is an interesting one. We don’t hear a lot about it, but we’re definitely interested, because hey, as soon as you meet a person as off as this narrator, the first thing you want to know is what his parents were like. Meursault reveals that "When [Maman] was at home with [him], [she] used to spend her time following [him] with her eyes, not saying a thing." Creepy! And not a little bit Norman Bates. It’s not really the point of The Stranger to apply family psychology to explain Meursault’s odd detachment, and Camus would probably have a fit, but hey – he put that line in there to begin with.

Names

Meursault's name can tell us something about his character. "Mer" means "the sea" in French, and while the second half is a bit of a stretch, "soleil" means "sun." This supports our nifty claim that Meursault is in fact an element of nature. It also makes sense; arguably the defining moment in Meursault’s life (at least before his revelation) is the moment when he shoots the Arab – when he "knock[s] four quick times on the door of unhappiness." And it happens at the sea, under the sun.

Speech and Dialogue

Polished Legal Argument (The Prosecutor)

The prosecutor’s eloquence shocks and, dare we say, persuades even Meursault himself of the monstrous crime he has committed. Fraught with emotion, hyperbole, and moral righteousness, the prosecutor’s closing remarks are dreadfully inaccurate, yet undeniably and forcefully convincing.

Rough Talk (Raymond)

Raymond’s speech is a cross between that of an Italian mafia man and a coalminer with his friends. Anyway, his speech is littered with jargon.

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