The Stranger

AP Literature
Cory Kim

Imagery: “Soon after this, as the streetcars Meursault creates a vivid image of the
became fewer and the sky showed velvety late-afternoon sky about 1-2 weeks after his
black above the trees and lamps, the street mother’s death. However, despite his recent
grew emptier, almost imperceptibly, until a loss, Meursault shows no signs of distress,
time came when there was nobody to be and seems more focused on the subtleties of
seen and a cat, the first of the evening, his surroundings. After his description, he is
crossed, unhurrying, the deserted street. It “struck” that he needs to eat “some dinner”.
struck me that I’d better see about some Despite his mother’s death, the only things on
dinner.” (16) his mind at the time were a detached
description of the setting and his supper.

Diction: “I promised, to satisfy him, but I While talking to his lawyer, Meursault assures
explained that my physical condition at any that he’d “rather [his mother] hadn’t died”.
given moment often influenced my feelings. His choice of words to show his “sadness”
For instance, on the day I attended Mother’s towards his mother’s death does just the
funeral, I was fagged out and only half opposite; by using the word “rather”, it shows
awake. So, really, I hardly took stock of what that he had been quick to come to terms with
was happening. Anyhow, I could assure him his mother’s death.
of one thing: that I’d rather Mother hadn’t
died.” (41)

Tone: “When we had finished dressing, Marie In spite of Meursault’s “healthy” and active
looked hard at me. Her eyes were sparkling. I relationship with Maria, he still shows a tone
kissed her; after that neither of us spoke for with indifference towards her. This same
quite a while. I pressed her to my side as we tone is consistent throughout the majority of
scrambled up the foreshore. Both of us were the book. Even in the face of intimacy with
in a hurry to catch the bus, get back to my his partner, he is indifferent.
place, and tumble on to the bed.” (24)

Detail: “I waited. The heat was beginning to During his confrontation with the Arab,
scorch my cheeks; beads of sweat were Meursault is more concerned with the
gathering in my eyebrows.... I couldn’t stand unpleasantly hot weather. In an attempt to
it any longer, and took another step forward. I avoid the heat, he steps forward, thus
knew it was a fool thing to do; I wouldn’t get causing the Arab to draw the knife, escalating
out of the sun by moving on a yard or so. But the situation to where the Arab is shot. What
I took that step, just one step, forward. And is absurd regarding this scene is that
then the Arab drew his knife and held it up Meursault was initially just describing how hot
toward me, athwart the sunlight.” (38) the weather was, but unintentionally caused
the Arab’s death by trying to avoid the heat.
It is almost as if Meursault doesn’t dictate his
own actions, where ultimately, the weather
“made” Meursault shoot the Arab.

Absurdity: “At first I didn’t take him quite Even after a murder with blood on his hands,
seriously. The room in which he interviewed Meursault shows indifference. To Meursault,
me was much like an ordinary sitting room, the Arab’s death was more of a coincidence
with curtained windows, and a single lamp than a premeditated crime. This highlights
standing on the desk. Its light fell on the Meursault’s absurdist behavior, where he
armchair in which he’d had me sit, while his believes his actions were without purpose.
own face stayed in shadow. I had read
descriptions of scenes like this in books and it
all seemed like a game to me.” (40)

Inevitability: “MOTHER died today. Or, In the beginning of the novella, Meursault
maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The finds out about his mother’s death. However,
telegram from the Home says: YOUR Meursault calmly states that “it could have
MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL been yesterday” or any other day, showing
TOMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which his indifference and immediate acceptance
leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been towards his loss. This same indifference
yesterday. The Home for Aged Persons is at shows that death, to Meursault, is something
Marengo, some fifty miles from Algiers. With that is unstoppable, which he later continues
the two o’clock bus I should get there well to accept in the end of the novella.
before nightfall. Then I can spend the night
there, keeping the usual vigil beside the
body, and be back here by tomorrow
evening.” (1)