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The Outsider (Stranger) - Albert Camus Cheat Sheet by

A cheatsheet about 'L'Étranger', 'The Stranger' or 'The Outsider'. Written by Albert Camus (1942).

Albert Camus

A French philos­opher, author, dramatist, and journa­list. In his debut novel ‘The Outsider’ (1942) Camus explored absurdity, this is a concept that he uses in his writing and is at the heart of his treatment of questions about the meaning of life. Throughout his work, he addresses topics ranging from alienation (we see this with Meursault feeling alienated from society) to the inadequacy of tradit­ional values.


Meursault, the protag­onist of the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, goes through life as a French man in colonial Algeria feeling isolated and detached from the people and events around him. He murders an Arab man without having a real motive for doing so, yet refuses to show remorse or believe that his soul can be judged. He accepts his death sentence with as much indiff­erence as he feels the world has shown him. - | Summary, Themes, and Analysis of “The Stranger” by Albert Camus

About the 'The Outsider'

This is a translated text (French) that offers two titles ‘The Outsider’ and ‘The Stranger’. The use of Outsider implies that the protag­onist is known but is considered odd, whereas the use of Stranger implies that no one knows him.

Set in 1940’s Algiers, the capital of Algeria. Algeria was a colony of France. Algiers would have been predom­inantly by a minority of French colonists.
This book is a novella


Salamano and his dog
Abusive, fearful and hateful
eursault and his Mother
Marie and Meursault
Raymond and Girlfriend
Toxic, sexually charged, and calculated


- The protag­onist and narrator
- Atheis­t/N­ihilist
- Alienated from society
- Lively and fun-loving
- Emotio­nally vunerable
- Wants to marry Meursault
- Conven­tional feelings
- Values compan­ion­ship, marriage and loyalty
- Macho
- Passionate emotions
- Tough guy values
- Hot temper
- Wareho­useman - Crook/­Ganster
- Meursa­ult's mother
- Her death impels the action of the story
- Represents social value placed on motherhood
- Questions Meursault after the shooting of the Arab
- Holds Christian values

The Afterward: By Albert Camus

A long time ago, I summed up The Outsider in a sentence I realise is extremely parado­xical: `In our society any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death.’ I simply meant that the hero of the book is condemned because he doesn’t play the game. In this sense, he is an outsider to the society in which he lives, wandering on the fringe, on the outskirts of life, solitary and sensual. And for that reason, some readers have been tempted to regard him as a reject. But to get a more accurate picture of his character, or rather one which conforms more closely to his author’s intent­ions, you must ask yourself in what way Meursault doesn’t play the game. The answer is simple: he refuses to lie. Lying is not saying what isn’t true. It is also, in fact, especially saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler. But, contrary to appear­ances, Meursault doesn’t want to make life simpler. He says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and society immedi­ately feels threat­ened. For example, he is asked to say that he regrets his crime, in a time-h­onoured fashion. He replies that he feels more annoyance about it than true regret. And it is this nuance that condemns him.

So for me Meursault is not a reject, but a poor and naked man, in love with a sun which leaves no shadows. Far from lacking all sensib­ility, he is driven by a tenacious and therefore profound passion, the passion for an absolute and for truth. The truth is as yet a negative one, a truth born of living and feeling, but without which no triumph over the self or over the world will ever be possible.

So one wouldn’t be far wrong in seeing The Outsider as the story of a man who, without any heroic preten­sions, agrees to die for the truth. I also once said, and again parado­xic­ally, that I tried to make my character represent the only Christ that we deserve. It will be unders­tood, after these explan­ations, that I said it without any intention of blasphemy but simply with the somewhat ironic affection that an artist has a right to feel towards the characters he has created.

Questions to consider

1. How do we want Meursault to feel about Marie
2. Is Meursault happy in Algiers?
3. How does Meursa­ult's life create discomfort for us?
4. Why does Camus present relati­onships that are tainted by death, guilt and violence?
5. What is Camus saying about the world, through the relati­onships he depicts in the texts?
6. 'The Sun' - Why is it the perfect day?
7. After the murder, how is Meursault incrim­inating himself further?
8. Why is the lawyer frustrated with Meursault?
9. Why does Meursault persist with his honesty (link to absurd­ism)?
10. How far are our societies based upon religious values?
11. Are our laws based upon religious doctrines?
12. In prison Meursault says 'You end up getting used to everyt­hing', is this true?
13. Who is the real Meursault? Does he care about others? Does his commitment to the truth outweigh his care for others?
14. Why does Meursault wish to be greeted with ‘cries of hatred’?
15. Why do we cling to ‘cause and effect’ in our lives?


- Isolation
- Relati­onships
- Meanin­gless existence
- Ceremony
- The Sun
- Race
- Justice
- Heroism
- Death
- Existe­nti­alism
- Absurdism


- Death and Decay
- Watching and Observ­ation
- Sensit­ivity and Discomfort


- The Courtroom
- The Crucifix
- The Sun

Unconv­ent­ional Behaviours of Meursault

- Disres­pectful at his mother's funeral
- Sleeps with a woman and then forgets about her and moves on to complain how he hates sundays.

At a Vigil

Expected Behaviours
- Viewing the body
- Silence
- Thinking of memories of the deceased
- Feeling sad
Meursault: Not involved in the vigil process, very self-i­nvo­lved. He is completely neglecting the religious process. Not acknow­ledging his mother's life as sacred.


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