Study Guide

The Stranger Part 1, Chapter 5

By Albert Camus

Part 1, Chapter 5

  • Raymond calls Meursault at the office to invite him and Marie to spend the coming Sunday at his friend's beach house near Algiers. He says he's been followed all day by a group of Arabs, one of whom is the brother of his ex-girlfriend/mistress.
  • Meursault's boss sends for him after the call. The boss tells him of plans to open an office in Paris and wonders whether Meursault would be interested in going there. Meursault says sure, but that really it is all the same for him—that is, one life is just as good as another, and he's content with this one.
  • The boss, disappointed, criticizes Meursault for never being forthright and for having no ambition.
  • That evening, Marie comes by and, despite having been informed that Meursault doesn't love her, asks him if he wants to get married. Meursault, of course, says it doesn't make any difference to him but that if she wants to, sure.
  • Marie asks him if he loves her yet, and he answers in the same absurd manner. Marie is fed up, but proposes marriage anyway.
  • The two go for a stroll through the main streets on the other side of town, both acknowledging the various beautiful women about town. When they part, Meursault goes for dinner at Celeste's.
  • It's all the same old, same old until a strange little woman sits down at Meursault's table. She doesn't talk to him, but she does partake in some oddly compulsive activities with a checklist of radio programs.
  • Meursault watches. Her peculiarity and meticulousness arouses his curiosity, so he follows her out of the diner for a while. She loses him shortly after.
  • Meursault returns home to find old Salamano waiting outside his door. He says the people at the pound suggested his dog had been run over. Meursault essentially says, "Whatever, get another dog," but Salamano declines because he "was used to this one."
  • He also loved it, he says, explaining that he got the pet after his wife died. Though he was never particularly happy with either the wife or the dog, he had gotten used to each.
  • He adds that old age is a total curse, a curse without a cure.
  • Meursault yawns and Salamano gets up to leave. He thanks Meursault for his time and informs him that Maman (Meursault's mother) was fond of his dog. He says he knew Meursault loved his mother very much, even though everyone else in the neighborhood thought he was a bad guy for sending her away to a nursing home. Of course, knowing what we know about Meursault, this was probably like Christmas.