Superficially reading this short novel, the reader can hardly understand it correctly. But by paying attention to details and analyzing them, one can understand what kind of STRANGER is being talked about.
The main character, Meursault, lives a monotonous solitary life because he is indifferent to society and the world around him.
He is alienated from established social rules and laws because he sees the world through the eyes of absurdity and is honest in expressing his alienation.
That's why he is a STRANGER in the world that surrounds him.
Probably every person has felt like a stranger in the world around them at some point because there are many inevitable absurdities in it that have no answers, where the search for answers is essentially meaningless.
Human life itself and its meaning are a great absurdity, which is further complicated by many social rules, customs, and laws.
When a person is overwhelmed by indifference and coldness, they become a loner, but even their inner world becomes empty and damaged.
However, the dictate of the external world, which is immediately felt as a threat by such strangers, is impossible to avoid.
Ignoring and avoiding it, as the fate of the main character in the novel - Meursault will show, can be very dangerous and lead to certain destruction.
The plot of the novel takes place somewhere before the beginning of World War II, in the country of Algeria (in its capital city, also called Algiers), which was then a French colony.
FULL BOOK SUMMARY
- "Today, my mother died. Or maybe it was yesterday. I don't know."
The main character, named Meursault, receives a telegram informing him that his mother has died.
She had spent almost three years in a nursing home in a village.
During those three years, Meursault hadn't visited her often because it would "take away a week" from him and also require some effort.
- Meursault doesn't show any sadness over his mother's death, he even refuses to see her at the funeral home.
He spends the night peacefully keeping watch and dozing off next to her coffin, along with her friends.
The nursing home manager and others are mostly surprised by the fact that Meursault doesn't know exactly how old his mother was.
To him, all those elderly people seemed as meaningless as withered plants.
- After the funeral, Meursault doesn't think about his mother anymore. The next day, he returns to the city of Algiers, where he works as a low-level official in a maritime company.
In Algiers, he meets his former colleague, Marie Cardona, and they go to the cinema together, then spend the night at his apartment.
Meursault finds Marie attractive, but he doesn't know if he loves her.
- Meursault's neighbor, Raymond Sintes, invites him for wine and dinner. It was known about Raymond that he secretly engaged in pimping women and girls, but he told everyone that he was a storekeeper.
During dinner, Raymond tells Meursault about his mistress, whom he beat because she was cheating on him. After that, he got into a fight with an Arab man who was her brother.
Raymond asked Meursault to write a letter to his mistress on his behalf. He wanted to reconcile with her and then, as revenge, punish her further.
Meursault did it, and Raymond called him his friend.
- Meursault spends the whole day in the apartment with Marie. When she asked him if he loves her, Meursault replied that loving someone means nothing to him, and that he still thinks he doesn't love her.
At that moment, they heard from Raymond's apartment that he was beating his mistress again, so the neighbors called the police to put an end to the fight and threaten Raymond.
- The boss calls Meursault and tells him that their company will open a branch in Paris, offering him a better job and a trip.
Meursault refuses the offer because he considered ambitions for better things meaningless.
- In the evening, Marie asks Meursault if he would marry her.
Meursault says that marriage doesn't matter to him, but if she wants to, he agrees to marry her.
She finds it strange because she believed that marriage is a serious matter while he thought it wasn't.
- Raymond invites Meursault and Marie to spend a week together at his friend Masson's beach cottage.
On Sunday at Masson's, who warmly welcomed them, Raymond reveals that he is being followed by a small group of Arabs, who are the brothers of the girl he had beaten.
- Meursault and Raymond went for a walk on the beach under the scorching sun. They then encountered the Arabs. Raymond had a gun and wanted to shoot the Arabs, but Meursault warned him not to do it.
Afterward, Raymond handed the gun to Meursault and got into a fight with the Arabs. One of the Arabs pulled out a knife and lightly cut Raymond's arm with it.
- They took Raymond to see a doctor for bandaging, and Meursault went for another walk.
Near a spring, where he wanted to cool off from the burning and flickering beach, he encountered the Arab with the knife again.
- The Arab drew the knife, and the sunlight illuminated his steel:
"That scorching sword burned my eyelashes and dug into my painful eyes.
Then everything started spinning before me. I was hit by the heavy and hot breath of the sea. It seemed to me that the sky opened wide to let out a fiery rain.
I strained with all my being, and my hand clenched on the revolver."
Meursault pulled out the revolver and killed him.
- After the murder, Meursault is taken to a detention center, where the investigating judge frequently interrogates him about the killing.
Meursault tries to explain that he did not intend to kill the Arab, that it all happened by chance. He did not even consider the whole case to be serious.
- Meursault did not have a lawyer, so they assigned one to him who claimed he could clear him of the charges if he cooperated in his defense.
To the lawyer's surprise, Meursault did not cooperate with him.
He was indifferent during the hearings, as if it wasn't about him. His very honest answers even hindered the lawyer's defense.
- The lawyer informs Meursault that the prosecution is investigating his character and behavior before the murder.
They then learn many details about his mother's funeral, which indicated that he was an insensitive and godless man, and the investigating judge calls him the Antichrist.
- When he was first brought to prison, Meursault found himself in a room with several Arabs, and his cold-blooded confession that he had killed an Arab shocked them.
After a few days, he was transferred to a solitary cell where he slept on planks.
Meursault spends monotonous days in prison, where he quickly loses track of time. He divided time into yesterday and today, mostly spending it sleeping and reminiscing.
- Once, between the straw mattress and the bed planks, Meursault finds a piece of old newspaper and reads the same story several times.
"A man traveled from a Czech village with the intention of getting rich. After 25 years, he returned with a wife and child as a rich man."
His mother and sister owned a hotel. "As a joke, he thought of renting a room from them. He showed them his money.
To rob him, the mother and sister kill him at night with hammer blows and throw the body into the river.
In the morning, his wife arrives, unaware of everything, and discovers who the traveler is. The mother hangs herself. The sister jumps into a well."
- The story of the Czech, who when he perishes as a son and brother becomes the subject of the greatest tragedy, but when as a STRANGER he can be robbed and killed, unusually interested Meursault.
He read it a thousand times.
On the one hand, it seemed incredible to him, on the other hand, natural.
Meursault believed that the traveler somewhat deserved such a fate because one should never joke.
- In prison, for the first time, Meursault begins to regret the things he did not enjoy in freedom. He missed nature, the sea, women, and cigarettes the most.
To pass the time, he realized he should turn to memories. However, his world of imagination and memories was scarce.
They were mostly things and furniture from his room and occasional memories of his mother's words. He regrets why he wasn't more curious about certain things.
- After almost a year, the trial begins, but instead of murder, it seemed as if they were judging Meursault for his mother's funeral.
His guilt was that he sent his mother to a nursing home, where she died, that he appeared unfeeling on the day of the funeral,
that he didn't know how old she was, that he spent the next day with his girlfriend, that he hung out with Raymond, who pimped girls, that he didn't believe in God...
Meursault wanted to cry in the face of such injustice and malicious interpretation of his actions.
- Meursault expected to be sentenced to several years in prison.
In the end, the court found him guilty of premeditated murder and, in the name of the French people, sentenced him to death by beheading in a public place.
The court determined that he had no place in a society whose values he did not respect.
- Meursault had the right to write a plea for pardon. At first, he wanted to do it, but he changed his mind. He concluded that he would surely die one day.
At the age of thirty or seventy, but he would still die.
He felt fear of death but considered it natural. He knew that this fear would be present regardless of the age at which he would die.
- Meursault refused the priest who came to confess him before his death three times. The fourth time, however, he did it because the priest came not to confess him but to talk as human beings.
The priest said that every death row inmate so far had hoped that there is another world in which life will continue.
He didn't believe that Meursault was different, but that only his heart was blinded.
- Something snapped in Meursault at that moment, and he reacted emotionally for the first time. He grabbed the priest by the collar of his robe, insulted him, and shouted at him.
He told him that, unlike him, he is fully aware of the true truth, just as he is aware of the absurdity of life as a whole.
Meursault says that he doesn't have much time left, but he is now happier with his truth about certain death that awaits him than the priest and others who deceive themselves that death will not come.
- The priest leaves, and Meursault is emptied of anger, purified by the truth, and freed from fear.
Finally, in order to feel less alone, he only wishes that there would be as many spectators as possible at his execution, and that they would greet him with cries of hatred.