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The Stranger | Quotes


Maman died today. Or yesterday, I don't know.

Meursault, Part 1, Chapter 1

Meursault views major events in life, such as the death of a mother, as unimportant, suggesting that he views life and its experiences as meaningless.


Maman was buried now ... I was going back to work ... really, nothing had changed.

Meursault, Part 1, Chapter 2

Meursault views life as a series of meaningless events, big and small, which change nothing.


I tried ... to please Raymond because I didn't have any reason not to please him.

Meursault, Part 1, Chapter 3

Meursault often passively pleases others because he views life as meaningless. As a result, there is no real reason to act or not to act in any given situation.


They were staring at us ... as if we were nothing but stones or dead trees.

Meursault, Part 1, Chapter 6

Meursault consistently characterizes the Arabs as faceless or expressionless, which may suggest racism on his part. It may also create another stranger in the text, as the Arab community, too, is outside the structure of French colonial society.


The sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire.

Meursault, Part 1, Chapter 6

Meursault views the sun as an oppressive, hostile force that causes him to behave in ways contradicting social expectations.


My reflection seemed to remain serious even though I was trying to smile at it.

Meursault, Part 2, Chapter 2

In prison, Meursault looks at himself and sees his serious expression. For the first time, he makes a connection between his physical being and his emotions.


When I look into a man's face ... all I see is a monster.

Prosecutor, Part 2, Chapter 4

The prosecutor uses his moral viewpoint to judge Meursault's amoral behavior as monstrous, using this judgment—not Meursault's murder of the Arab—to justify his request for the death penalty. Illustrating the themes of miscommunication and a meaningless life, the prosecutor's conclusions are both erroneous and absurd.


Forced to admit ... its consequences became as real ... as the wall against which I pressed.

Meursault, Part 2, Chapter 5

In prison Meursault comes face to face with his own death, which he can no longer escape via pleasant physical sensations.


I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.

Meursault, Part 2, Chapter 5

Purged of any hope of escaping death, Meursault accepts the indifference of the world and the meaninglessness of existence. He is thereby able to make a connection with the world, which he describes as "like a brother," and to feel happy.


To feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

Meursault, Part 2, Chapter 5

Meursault's world view shifts in the last line of the novel. In a world without meaning, he can seek companionship even among those who wish him dead.

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