The book starts off with Monsieur Meursault’s mothers’ death and he received a telegram from the home he put her in saying, “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” (3) He responds to the telegram saying, “That doesn’t mean anything.” (3) This makes the reader think that he doesn’t really care for his mother and maybe he didn’t like her especially since when he asked his boss for a couple days off and his boss looked angry he said “it wasn’t my fault” (3) and “I didn’t have anything to apologize for.” (3) Even when he was offered to see his mother’s corpse for the very last time he refused simply because he didn’t want to.
His mom’s friends then came in silently and one of them started crying but he said, “I didn’t know who she was.” (10) So this is also proof that he never really talked to his mom when he put her in the home since she didn’t even know who her friends were.
Someone then asked him “was she old?” (16) and he didn’t even know so he responded saying “fairly.” (16) This is even more proof he didn’t know his own mother very well. Overall he didn’t really show much emotion toward his mother’s death because he categorizes himself as indifferent so he can neither be happy nor unhappy.
Monsieur Meursault then met a girl who he had a crush on named Marie Cardona and they immediately started bonding and eventually started dating.
We do see Meursault feel a bit of guilt since he said, “besides, you always feel a little guilty.” (20) This is referring to his mom so this is showing he did care about his mother to some degree but not very much according to his enthusiasm in his words although this could be just him being himself since he’s indifferent. You can also tell he feels heartless for not expressing any feelings and not really caring about the matter.
Once Meursault started working again his boss asked him “if things were “all right now?”” (26) Meursault responded saying “yes they were and said I was hungry.” (26) He still isn’t showing any emotion to the fact his mother just died.
Then two of Meursault’s neighbors are introduced one named Salamano who is an old man that does everything with his old dog but he acts like he hates it since he always “beats the dog and swears at it” (27) but when his dog ran away Meursault heard Salamano crying so him and his dog have a sort of love hate relationship. Then Raymond his other neighbor is introduced and they start to get along very well and even become pals. Although Raymond does use him to write a guilt letter to his girlfriend who he caught cheating so he can teach her a lesson. But Meursault didn’t mind and thought them being pals would be ok.
Marie asked Meursault if he loved her and he said, “it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so.” (35) This is another example of him not showing any feeling and showing he’s indifferent.
Raymond’s girlfriend then showed up at Raymond’s and they started fighting and Raymond hit her then the cops showed up and after everything was settled “Raymond looked happy.” (37) This is because he got her back for what she did and then Raymond asked another favor from Meursault to testify for him in court to say she cheated on him and of course Meursault “found him very friendly…it was a nice moment” (38) This is the second time within a day of them becoming pals that he used him for something.
Meursault’s boss offered him a job in Paris and he responded “yes but that really it was all the same” (41) and his boss responded saying he “never gave him a straight answer, that I had no ambition” (41) This is another example of him being indifferent and not being able to show much feeling like his ambition which he doesn’t show at all.
He then went back into the past about his student days and said, “when I was a student I had lots of ambition…but when I had to give up my studies I realized none of it really mattered.” (41) Since Meursault wasn’t always like this there most likely was something that made him see the world like this. He has not mentioned anything about his father so it may have something to do with him or maybe a past event that has scared him for life and he doesn’t know how to face it.
Marie asked Meursault if he wanted to marry her and since he is so indifferent he said, “it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to.” (41) and then she asked if he loved her again and he said the same thing he said before “it didn’t really matter.” (41) Meursault doesn’t really think about the future at all and what would happen if he did get married he only really thinks of what he’s doing in the present since in his mind that’s all that really matters.
Finally Meursault shows a bit of emotion when he was swimming with Marie he said, “I felt her legs wrapped around mine and I wanted her.” (51)
After the incident with Raymond’s ex girlfriend he got into some trouble with some Arabs and they followed him to the beach and once there they all saw each other face to face and a fight broke out and one of them had a knife and he cut Raymond’s arm and slashed his mouth but luckily they were only flesh wounds and he got bandaged up shortly later. This then slowly leads us to the climax of the first part of the novel, which is split into 2 parts. After he got all bandaged up Raymond went back to approach the Arabs but this time with a gun although they both backed away and nothing happened. At that point Meursault had realized “you could either shoot or not shoot.” (56) This is again showing his indifferent side where he thinks there’s absolutely no difference between the two options so he doesn’t really think about the consequences in the near future. Meursault then decided to go back alone with the gun and on his way there there was a lot of imagery of heat and blindness. For example when he got back the Arab drew his knife and Meursault said, “the light shot off the steel and it was like a long flashing blade cutting at my forehead.” (59) Then “the trigger gave” (59) killing the Arab. Why would he do this? I said before he didn’t really think about the consequences of his actions in the future could this be why or is because he’s indifferent? He shows emotion again saying “it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness” (59) This shows he realizes what he’s just done but doesn’t really know what might happen. This part of the novel is a huge shocker to the reader since you wouldn’t think the book would head into this direction.
The next part begins with Meursault being in jail and getting questioned and the magistrate shows him a crucifix and since he’s atheist he is being referred to as devilish since the judge called him “monsieur antichrist.” (71)
In prison he has a lot of time to think about his thoughts and he eventually got used to the fact he was in jail and he remembered his Maman telling him “after a while you could get used to anything.” Meursault also only realized after a few months of being in prison that his freedom was taken away and he also had just realized he’d been talking to himself so this would mean he’s probably uncomfortable with this since it’s a first time thing for him.. In jail he’s learning to understand himself better and his beliefs as well. He also remembers what his Maman’s nurse told him “there was no way out” (81) This made him realize for the first time there’s no way out of prison and there is also no escaping death.
Once Meursault got to court for his trial the cops first put him in a room that he describes “smelled of darkness.” (82) This is another good example of imagery that we see Meursault use and it mainly has to do with light and darkness.
We see that during the trial the prosecutor and judge had broken him down so much that it made Meursault “have the stupid urge to cry” (90) and his reason was “because he could feel how much all these people hated him.” This was because the prosecutor was making the matter sound much worse than it really was and even his lawyer was lying a bit as well so the judge had to make his decision between two lies.
I also noticed that in this chapter he said “for the first time” (90) a lot for example “for the first time I realized that I was guilty.” (90) This is probably because he has never been in court before or convicted of anything in his life.
He goes back to his past again as well thinking about the times when he “was perfectly content.” (97) He is thinking of the good times here like it was before because that’s what he likes and what he’s used to.
The judge finds him guilty and he is awaiting his execution. While in his cell he listens to his final thoughts and he begins to finally think about the past, present, and future and he begins to think that it doesn’t really matter if he dies tomorrow or 10 years from now. He also starts to think about hope and this making him loses his understanding of the situation. He then starts thinking of death and he even begins to accept what is about to happen he says, “I would try to picture the exact moment when the beating of my heart would no longer be going on inside my head.” (113)
Meursault then talks about his father for the first time he said “I never knew him” (110) so this means his father was never in his life in the first place and he doesn’t seem to say why he acts the way he does so its probably just who he is. His mom said his father used to always say was “he’d gone to watch a murderer be executed” (110) this is pretty ironic because now his own son is about to be executed for murder.
The Champlain then came in they started arguing about God again Meursault just lost it on him and after he was done speaking about every thing he was feeling and was on his mind he started thinking about his mom again and about what must have been on her mind before she died. He said “Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again…and I felt ready to live it all again too.” (122) After he let everything out it was almost like he was ready to die he also said, “I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.” (123) After this the book ends so like I said he is now ready to die since his soul and conscious has been cleared and all the things he’d been waiting to say were now out in the open and Meursault can finally die in peace.