The Stranger Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- How does the weather, and in particular, the sun, affect Meursault’s mood and behavior? Why do you suppose it has any effect at all? Can Meursault truly believe that the scorching sun is a valid excuse for murdering the Arab?
- The Stranger is divided into two parts – what is the effect of such a structure? Do you see any structure created – outside of the two parts – that is marked by the three deaths of the text?
- Camus was a self-proclaimed "absurdist." Based on The Stranger and Meursault’s beliefs in The Stranger, how would you define "the absurd"? What role do concepts like "detachment," "alienation," "acceptance," and "society" play? How is absurdity reflected in (a) the events in Meursault’s life, (b) the relationships Meursault finds himself in, and (c) the attitudes with which Meursault faces, and subsequently rejects, the world?
- How does Meursault change as an individual from the beginning of the book to the very end? How do we see these changes? Are Meursault’s thoughts and feelings about death, for example, noticeably different by the end of the text? What about religion? Women?
- So, we’ve got all these relationships going on here: Meursault and Maman, Meursault and Marie, Salamano and his dog, Maman and Perez, Meursault and Raymond, and Raymond and his mistress. Which would you say is the most loving? Deep? Loyal? Casual? Sexual? Complex? Rooted in friendship and companionship? Indifferent? Uninteresting? Shallow? Sad? Other adjective?
- In what sense does Meursault triumph at the end of The Stranger? (This was what Camus intended, but you’re welcome to argue that, in fact, Meursault doesn’t triumph at all.) Does Meursault overcome society’s judgment, and thereby, its shackles? Or is it more important that he rebelled against conformity? And what’s up with him wishing for a large crowd of hating spectators at his execution?