Part 1, Chapter 1 Notes from The Stranger

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The Stranger Part 1, Chapter 1

The novel begins as Meursault reports on his Maman's (mother's) death. Detached and confused, he continues on with his normal life. He does go through with the expected actions of mourning, the routine of the funeral, and soon closes his mind on the past few weeks.

"Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.' That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday." Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 3

Topic Tracking: Death 1
Topic Tracking: Detachment 1

Meursault eats at his regular restaurant, Celeste's, runs to catch the bus, and ultimately visits the funeral home, where he discusses Maman's lack of religious thought and pending burial with the caretaker. When Meursault stares at the attending nurse, the caretaker explains that she has an abscess, which is the reason her face is wrapped in white bandages. Meursault is anxious and frustrated with the caretaker's questions and apprehensive attitude towards him and his mother's body's presence. The caretaker dispels his life story onto Meursault until nightfall. He brings coffee and cigarettes to the conversation, and although Meursault desires a cigarette, he does not feel comfortable smoking one because of his mother's body sitting in their presence. He soon forgets and proceeds to smoke with the caretaker as they sit vigil. Nothing seems to matter to him.

Topic Tracking: Detachment 2

As more people pile into the vigil, Meursault examines their every motion, movement, and sound. He sees the nurse from afar, he looks at the old women sobbing over their lost friend, analyzes the grotesque picture of the bulging stomachs of the elderly, and becomes annoyed by their subconscious sounds of the sucking in of their cheeks. He wonders if the dead body before them - his mother - actually means anything to these people, or if they are just acting as they are supposed to: as mourners who have lost something dear to them.

Topic Tracking: Death 2

Meursault dozes off and awakens every now and then. By morning, the mourners had slowly paid their respects by shaking his hand and leaving. He does not understand why they do such a bizarre and meaningless action, but follows along with the charade nonetheless. He looks outside at the beautiful-day-to-be and is upset, not because of his loss, but rather because of the imposition it places on his life. "It had been a long time since I'd been out in the country, and I could feel how much I'd enjoy going for a walk if it hadn't been for Maman" Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 12.

Meursault goes to church to speak with the priest about the burial. As he and the others follow with the grand procession from church through the outside village and to the burial plot, Meursault notices every minute detail in nature and in his surrounding company. Monsieur Perez, his mother's new love, aids with the other pallbearers in carrying the coffin. They are all much younger and more resilient than he, allowing his weak and feeble disposition to shine. Meursault notices Perez's slight limp that forces him to lag behind the rest of the pallbearers. The sweat on his face is trapped by his plethora of wrinkles, and he eventually collapses on the ground from the intense heat.

Topic Tracking: Observation 1

Detached and indifferent, Meursault sees the brown earth cover his mother's casket, and can think of only one thing. He is annoyed by the sounds of the village and simply wants to sleep in his own bed in Algiers as soon as the service is over.

Topic Tracking: Detachment 3

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