by Albert Camus
The Stranger Theme of Man and the Natural World
These days, society doesn't the new age-y wisdom, "Seek to be one with nature." But society in The Stranger finds that wisdom kind of objectionable... and even punishable by death. Meursault is almost a force/element of nature, and his actions are often dictated by the slightest changes in weather.
But because he blames the scorching sun as the reason for murdering a dude, he gets a trip to the guillotine. One of the many, many questions The Stranger asks is the extent to which man is affected by nature (or can be said to be one with nature).
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Does Meursault behave as if he is an element of nature? What drives this connection?
- At times the sun makes Meursault sleepy; at other times, it makes him angry or annoyed. Is there any rationale to this?
- Meursault is rather connected to nature, yet incredibly detached from humans. Is this illogical, or does it somehow make sense that man is in tune with the earth?
- Do you find Meursault’s appeal to "the weather" a valid defense for the murder?
- Trace the ups and downs of Meursault’s mood by pinpointing changes in the weather or the temperature or the sky. There is clearly a correlation, but does correlation necessarily mean causation?
- How do Camus’s descriptions of the weather or nature foreshadow events in the book?
Chew on This
Because Meursault narrates The Stranger, we can’t trust the description of events—in particular the day at the beach when the Arab is killed.
The heat of the sun can be seen as a strong enough influence on Meursault to explain why he killed the Arab.