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The Stranger

The Stranger


by Albert Camus

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rebirth

Falling Stage

Meursault is judged to be pathetic, dark, and frozen by society. And he couldn’t care less.

Deliberately frozen in an isolated state, Meursault is content not making sense of the world he lives in. Society expects him to cry at his mother’s funeral; he doesn’t. Marie asks him to marry her; he feels indifferent. Raymond requests him as a character reference; he says "Yeah, okay." Basically, his entire response to life is "meh."

Meursault does a lot of things not because he wants to, but because he doesn't have reasons not to do them. (For example: his entire friendship with Raymond.) Booker says that "the falling stage" is when the hero "falls" under a dark power. In this case, Meursault seems to have been under whatever "dark power" (basically passivity and indecision) for quite a bit of time.

Recession Stage

Meursault is content.

For a while, things proceed improbably well after Maman’s funeral. Meursault gets to "frolic" (bow chicka bow bow) with Marie on weekends, and spends time wining and dining with Raymond in the evenings. Eventually, the three go away to Raymond’s friend’s beach house for a weekend of fun. Meursault is happy, which in itself counts as recession from the dark power.

Imprisonment Stage

Meursault kills the Arab in cold blood, gets tossed into jail, and awaits his trial for a year or so.

He literally gets imprisoned. It’s the most perfect Booker stage three ever.

Nightmare Stage

Meursault has been in prison for a year and is found guilty of murder.

For Meursault, the solitude of prison is incessant. He hates not being free, and now, with the death sentence, it seems that he will never be free again. Meursault has given up to the "dark power" of passivity and mental weakness (at least in Camus’ eyes, it seems).

Rebirth Stage

Only a few days before his execution, Meursault awakes to the realization that he can accept death without despair.

Meursault’s "rebirth" is one of character... and actually signals his impending death. The nightmare he escaped isn’t death by guillotine, but the weakness of fearing that death. Meursault finally makes a decision—to be free from despair (even though, yeah, he's still locked up). 

This redemption is complete; Meursault emerges a hero because he doesn't need the rest of the world and its dictates. Take that, world.

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