CliffsNotes on Camus' The Stranger

CliffsNotes on Camus' The Stranger

CliffsNotes on Camus' The Stranger

CliffsNotes on Camus' The Stranger

Synopsis

The Stranger is a very short novel, divided into two parts. In Part One, covering eighteen days, we witness a funeral, a love affair, and a murder. In Part Two, covering about a year, we are present at a trial that recreates those same eighteen days from various characters' memories and points of view. Part One is full of mostly insignificant days in the life of Meursault, an insignificant man, until he commits a murder; Part Two is an attempt, in a courtroom, to judge not only Meursault's crime but also to judge his life. Camus juxtaposes two worlds: Part One focuses on subjective reality; Part Two, on a more objective, faceted reality.

The novel opens with two of the most quoted sentences in existential literature: "Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure." The impact of this indifference is shocking, yet it is a brilliant way for Camus to begin the novel. This admission of a son's unconcern about his mother's death is the key to Meursault's simple, uneventful life as a shipping clerk. He lives, he doesn't think too much about his day-to-day living, and now his mother is dead. And what does her death have to do with his life? To Meursault, life is not all that important; he doesn't ask too much of life, and death is even less important. He is content to, more or less, just exist. But by the end of the novel, he will have changed; he will have questioned his "existing" and measured it against "living" — living with an awareness that one can have and demand for himself — that is, a passion for life itself.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.