The hero of The Stranger displays a detachment not only from society, but also from women. He does not cry at his mother’s funeral. He does not sympathize with Raymond’s ex-girlfriend when she is brutally beaten. He does not love his own girlfriend, though he admittedly enjoys her company. Treatment of women is the main theme here, but other romantic and/or sexual relationships in the novel provide additional insights by way of contrast.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- Meursault seems extremely attuned to the physical nature of his relationship with Marie, but not so much the emotional. Does Meursault’s emotional landscape with respect to Marie change at all over the course of the book?
- What is the effect of women in The Stranger constituting only minor roles? Are these roles even necessary?
- Check out the nature of Perez’s relationship with Maman as compared to Meursault’s relationship with Marie. Are they similar? Different? (Age doesn’t count as a difference. Nice try, though.)
- Why in the world does Marie stay with Meursault? Why does she ask him to marry her? Is she blind!? Desperate!? Blind and desperate!?
- Why does Marie fade out from the story as the book progresses? Why doesn’t Meursault think about her in prison?
Chew on This
Meursault’s actions in and attitude towards his relationship with Marie is representative of his actions and attitudes in general: he is motivated only by the physical and concerned only with himself.
There are no positive examples of sexual relationships in The Stranger. Therefore, Camus argues that, to the absurdist, sex is at best irrelevant, and at worst destructive or hurtful.