Notes on Characters from The Stranger

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The Stranger Major Characters

Monsieur Meursault: Meursault, the central character in the novel, is a young Frenchman, who commits murder and contemplates life while on trial. A detached, observant, and indifferent man, Meursault is constantly under scrutiny by society surrounding him. Likewise, he constantly observes his surroundings. His mother dies before the novel begins, and his apathy towards her death and her funeral cause future strife for him. Immediately after her death, he goes about his daily life, as if it were normal. Immediately after the funeral, he goes to the beach and meets up with Marie Cardona, a woman from his office. They become intimately involved from that moment on. He returns home, speaks with his neighbors, and soon develops a quick friendship with Raymond Sintes, who beats his Arab ex-mistress. Weeks later, while on the beach, they encounter a group of Arabs, including the brother of his beaten ex-girlfriend, fight, and leave. Meursault returns to the beach later that day and shoots the Arab in cold blood four times. He is put in trial for murder and eventually sentenced to death by public execution. While on trial, he observes the courtroom, recollects on his past relationships, and comes to terms with his actions. Meursault ultimately does not believe in God, is frustrated with every person in his life, and welcomes death openly.

Maman: Although Maman is not a living character in the novel, her presence is felt throughout. Meursault had put her in a home, where she lived out her remaining days. It is his seeming uncaring relationship with her - his mother - that sets in motion society's negative image of his personality.

Raymond Sintes: Raymond Sintes is Meursault's friend and the peripheral cause of his trial. Raymond is a cold man who, like Meursault, keeps his distance from most people. Raymond believes that women should not only be put in their place, but also deserve beatings for their malevolent actions. When Raymond beats his ex-girlfriend, the conflict begins. The group of Arab men follows the two men around until the final showdown by the stream at the beach. Raymond testifies in Meursault's favor; but his words cannot help. Meursault is ultimately convicted of murder.

Marie Cardona: Marie is the woman with whom Meursault is intimately involved. She declares her love for him on several occasions and expresses her desire to marry him. She visits him in prison and testifies in his favor. However, again, it is Meursault's relationship with her that aids in his ultimate conviction. The fact remains that Meursault started a relationship with Marie the day after his mother's funeral. Meursault cares for Marie, but not in the same way that she cares for him. To Meursault, Marie is just a woman, a body, who cares about him - nothing special.

Minor Characters

The caretaker: The caretaker of the funeral home speaks with Meursault after Maman passes away. They discuss life and death, and share coffee and a cigarette. When the caretaker testifies at Meursault's trial, the afternoon they shared place Meursault in a negative light.

Celeste: Celeste is the owner of the restaurant that Meursault frequents. He testifies favorably for Meursault at his trial, with words that make Meursault openly emotional and grateful.

Monsieur Perez: Monsieur Perez is Maman's male companion prior to her death. He is a sweet, feeble old man, who struggles during Maman's funeral and aids with the other pallbearers in carrying her coffin to its burial.

Emmanuel: Emmanuel is a friend of Meursault's from work. They spend some time together, seeing movies and talking. He only enters the novel in the beginning and at the end during the trial.

Salamano: Salamano is Meursault's downstairs neighbor. Although he lives alone and seems like a sad, depressive soul, he has a large heart completely devoted to his dog. The spaniel suffers from a skin disease that covers his (and Salamano's) skin with scabs. The authorities eventually take away Salamano's dog, and he cries every night from longing. Salamano also testifies for Meursault in the trial.

The Arab: Although the Arab plays a small role in the novel, like Maman, his presence is strongly felt. Because Raymond beats his sister, he and his friends follow Raymond and Meursault to the beach and start a fight. Meursault returns later in the day and shoots him. After he falls on the ground seeming dead, Meursault shoots him three more times.

Masson: Masson is a friend of Raymond's who lives on the beach during the weekends with his wife. A friendly man, he goes swimming with Meursault and Raymond, and eventually testifies for him at the trial.

The prosecutor: The prosecuting attorney is a man with a fiery tongue and powerful presence. Meursault often believes him to be a better lawyer than his own defense attorney. He attacks Meursault's character by persistently bringing up his indifference to Maman's death and his relationship with Marie so soon after her funeral. The prosecutor ultimately wins, for Meursault is convicted of premeditated murder and is sentenced to a public execution.

The defense attorney: The defense attorney works diligently on Meursault's case and humors the jury by making fun of the prosecutor's allegations. He calls several character witnesses in Meursault's favor, but ultimately loses the case.

The chaplain: The prison chaplain repeatedly comes to speak with Meursault, hoping to elicit some sort of emotion and religious sentiment. He persists on a final try, questioning Meursault's reasoning and devotion, confused as to why he cannot feel remorse. Meursault is annoyed with the chaplain's persistence and eventually grabs him, screaming about all sorts of statements of indifference and relations and past mistakes. The prison guards are forced to restrain Meursault from harming the chaplain.

The magistrate: The magistrate enters prison to speak with Meursault at the beginning of his trial. He thrusts a crucifix in Meursault's face, begging him to find salvation. Meursault does not comply.

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