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The Stranger

The Stranger


by Albert Camus

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

We experience the everyday life of Meursault through his eyes and narration. Basically, Meursault doesn’t really care for his mother (or her death). He loves to have casual sex on the beach with an ex-coworker and he hangs out with a greaseball guy named Raymond.

Act II

The nightmare starts when Meursault shoots and kills an Arab at the beach. The nightmare continues for a year in prison, while Meursault awaits trial. The nightmare springs to life when, following trial, Meursault is sentenced to death by guillotine. Just call it Act II: The Nightmare.


We’re with Meursault when—at the crack of dawn—not far from his execution day, he experiences a kind of transcendence or enlightenment. Rejecting society and embracing himself, he emerges triumphant. 


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