by Albert Camus
The Stranger Theme of Man and the Natural World
These days, society hardly challenges the new age-y wisdom, "Seek to be one with nature." Society in The Stranger finds one manifestation of that wisdom objectionable, and even punishable by death. An element of nature, the narrator’s actions are often dictated by the slightest changes in weather. Citing the scorching sun as the reason for murder, however, his unbelievable story is met with a trip to the guillotine. The Stranger investigates the extent to which man is affected by nature or may 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 renders him angry or annoyed. Is there any rationale to this?
- Meursault is rather connected to nature, yet incredibly detached from humans. Is this yet another illogical tenet of an irrational world, or does it somehow make sense that man, a mere creature himself, is in tune with the earth?
- Do you find Meursault’s appeal to "the weather" a valid defense for the murder? Even if we accept it with respect to the first shot, how did "the weather" influence the four shots thereafter?
- 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.