Study Guide

The Stranger Part 1, Chapter 6

By Albert Camus

Part 1, Chapter 6

  • Waking up on Sunday proves hard for Meursault; Marie has to shake him. The bright sun feels like a "slap in the face," which at this point doesn't surprise us at all.
  • The pair goes over to Raymond's. Meursault reflects that on Saturday, he and Raymond had gone to the police station so Meursault could testify about the woman having cheated on him. Because of this testimony, Raymond had got off with only a warning.
  • As they head toward the bus stop, Raymond points to a group of Arabs in front of the tobacconist's shop. The second one from the left is supposedly the brother of Raymond's ex-girlfriend.
  • We know this brother has been tailing Raymond, but no one follows as they get onto the bus.
  • Meursault, Raymond, and Marie arrive at Raymond's friend's wooden bungalow. Masson, Raymond's friend, has a plump wife with a Parisian accent who bonds with Marie. Seeing the two women laugh, for the first time Meursault really thinks about the fact that he is getting married.
  • Masson, Meursault, and Marie go for a swim down at the beach. Privately, Masson tells Meursault that Marie is both stunning and charming.
  • Why does everyone's name start with "M"?
  • The three swim for a while, Meursault (expectedly) dozes off, and they all have lunch together at Masson's.
  • They have fish, meat, wine, and fried potatoes; Meursault drinks and smokes a lot. So does Marie.
  • Afterwards, as the two ladies take care of the dishes, the three men take a stroll down the beach. The sun is beating down hard, which is never good news.
  • At this point, Raymond points to two Arabs in blue overalls walking towards them from the far end of the beach. These are the same men who have been following Raymond around all week. This, too, is never good news.
  • The three men plan an attack, in case any trouble arises.
  • The blazing sand looks red to Meursault by the time the Arabs confront them. Red like blood. Foreshadowing alert!
  • Raymond steps up to one of the Arab men, his ex-girlfriend's brother, and strikes the first blow. Masson hits the other man twice; he falls face down in the water. Raymond apparently strikes another hit, as the other Arab's face starts to bleed.
  • The Arab cuts Raymond's arm and slashes his mouth with a knife. Masson lunges forward, but the Arabs start backing off slowly and eventually run away.
  • Masson takes Raymond to a doctor who spends his Sundays up on the plateau. Meursault isn't happy about having to explain the blood and whatnot to the women folk—who are pretty upset—so he just shuts up and smokes, like any good detached fellow would do.
  • At 1:30 p.m. (Meursault, in his narration, keeps telling us what time it is), Raymond comes back all bandaged up. He looks rather grim, though 'tis only a flesh wound. When Raymond goes to get some air at the beach, Meursault follows him.
  • The sun is overpowering with its heated rays. Uh oh.
  • The pair once again stumbles upon the two Arabs, this time lying down in their greasy overalls near the little spring at the end of the beach. They seem calm.
  • Raymond debates whether or not to shoot the Arab who attacked him, but Meursault says it would be lousy to do so if the Arab doesn't draw his knife first.
  • Finally, at Meursault's suggestion, Raymond hands him his gun, so he can take the Arab on without a weapon, "man to man." If the other Arab moves in or draws his knife, Meursault promises to let him have it.
  • Most interesting line ever: Meursault says that this is the moment when he realized one could either shoot or not shoot. Go ahead and compare this to his earlier conversation with his boss.
  • The sun glares down as everyone stares at one another. The Arabs back away behind a giant rock, and Raymond and Meursault turn back to the beach house.
  • The sun's heat is intense from by now. As soon as Raymond disappears up the stairs to the bungalow, Meursault turns back around toward the beach.
  • His head swells under the sun as he walks. This heat, Meursault thinks, is better than tolerating the women's tears back at the beach house. He wants to find shade and isolation.
  • As Meursault approaches the spring, he sees one of the Arabs again—Raymond's girlfriend's brother— lying there alone on his back.
  • The Arab sees Meursault, and reaches in his pocket for a knife. Meursault grips the gun inside his jacket as a reflex.
  • Meursault realizes that all he has to do is turn around towards the beach house. But the sweltering beach and the scorching sun compel him to take a few steps toward the cool spring.
  • He notes that the sun's heat is similar to the day he buried his mother. Hmm!
  • The Arab doesn't move at first, but as Meursault gets closer, he draws his knife and holds it up to Meursault.
  • The light bounces off the steel and cuts like a blade at Meursault's forehead. A drip of sweat temporarily blinds him.
  • The flash of the blade slashes at his eyelashes and stabs at his stinging eyes. Everything begins to reel.
  • The specific language here is important, by the way, so you really should read your book. But just in case you lost your text (did the dog eat it?) we'll do our best to help you out.
  • Meursault squeezes his hand around the revolver. But does he shoot?
  • Meursault records that "the trigger gave." Afterwards, he knows he has "shattered the harmony of the day." So to top it off, he fires four more times. And "It was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness."