Study Guide

The Stranger Part 1, Chapter 3

By Albert Camus

Part 1, Chapter 3

  • Meursault works hard at the office today. His boss is nice to him, presumably because Meursault is in mourning, though hardly anything would give that away.
  • Meursault washes his hands at lunchtime—not because he needs to, but just because he enjoys drying them on a fresh towel, since the one towel everyone shares has to last an entire day. This is odd.
  • He and Emmanuel, his coworker and friend, jump into the back of a large truck for a lift to Celeste's diner for lunch.
  • After lunch, Meursault goes back to his apartment for a nap. Then he goes back to work.
  • That evening as Meursault walks back home, he feels good because the sky is green.
  • (Once again, this guy and weather. Something is up.)
  • He bumps into his neighbor, Salamano—and his disease-ridden old dog—on the stairway. Meursault observes that dog and master have been inseparable for eight years, and after living together for so long, they now look like each other. What is more, the two have a love-hate relationship, much like an old married couple.
  • Meursault chats briefly with Salamano until Raymond Sintes, his other neighbor, comes in. Raymond is rumored to be a shady character with very few friends, though Meursault reasons that he doesn't have any justification for not talking to this guy. Raymond invites him for a light dinner, so Meursault agrees.
  • While enjoying blood sausages (probably not as gross as they sound) and wine—lots of it—the two chat about a fight Raymond was in earlier. Raymond asks Meursault if he wants to be pals, and Meursault agrees.
  • Raymond then confides in Meursault about his wanting to teach his cheating ex-girlfriend, or mistress, a lesson.
  • He tells Meursault that, in the past, any time he discovered her indiscretions he would just smack her around a little (actually, he hit her pretty hard, to the point of bleeding), and then have some make-up sex and everything would be fine... domestic violence aside. But now he's decided that he wants to "punish" her (more so, apparently). Mostly, he reveals, he hates that he still has sexual feelings for her.
  • The two devise a plan. First, Meursault writes a nasty letter (to the girlfriend, on behalf of Raymond) which they expect will compel the "Moorish" ex-girlfriend to come crawling back asking for forgiveness. Then, once she does comes crawling back, Raymond can have sex with her and "right at the last minute" spit in her face, and throw her out.
  • Raymond, pleased with the letter, seals it for mailing. The men shake hands, having cemented their friendship in this evil-spirited way. After finishing off the liter of wine, the two smoke, and Meursault stumbles drunkenly back across the landing to his apartment, the two of them asserting that it's not so bad Meursault's mother died, since it was bound to happen sooner or later anyway.