Notes on The Stranger Themes

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The Stranger Topic Tracking: Death

Death 1: The novel begins with Meursault recalling his mother's death. He does not remember specifically the day on which she died. He simply remembers that she died recently and he must now go about with the funeral processions.

Death 2: At Maman's funeral, Meursault begins to think about death. He wonders if all the people in attendance actually cared for his mother or are simply going along with the necessary actions placed on them by society. He wonders if her dead body lying before them has any importance or influence on their lives, or if she is simply just another dead body laying before them.

Death 3: Marie is shocked to learn of Maman's death (and consequently Meursault's) loss. She realizes how soon his mother died and is momentarily confused as to why Meursault is both at the beach and spending time with her. However, she soon forgets this tragic fact and jumps in bed with Meursault. Although she is saddened by the idea of death, she too does not let it affect her actions.

Death 4: When Raymond uncovers the gun he brought to the beach, Meursault is initially surprised. He knows that it is an instrument of death. However, when he tells Raymond that he should take the gun from him, he realizes the imminence and possibility of death. All he has to do is shoot and life is over.

Death 5: With the distractions of the heat and the light reflecting off of the Arab's blade, Meursault pulls the trigger of Raymond's gun. He plays the role of God and takes away someone else's life. However, immediately after shooting the Arab, he places three more bullets in the body lying on the ground. Death does not seem a daunting task to attempt, when someone else is the receiver.

Death 6: The magistrate cannot understand Meursault's reaction to the Arab's death. He shoots the Arab, the Arab falls down on the sand dead. However, Meursault continues to shoot him three more times. It is this post mortal shooting that disturbs not only the magistrate, but also the jury. Why, after he is already dead, does Meursault continue to shoot the Arab? Not even he can answer that question.

Death 7: The one newspaper clip that Meursault reads and rereads while in prison is loosely about death. A man returns home after years away and is murdered. His family dies tragically soon afterwards. It is this story that keeps Meursault occupied during his long time in solitude.

Death 8: The judge hands Meursault a death sentence upon declaration of his guilt. Meursault initially has trouble understanding why he must die, but also understands that he inflicted death upon another person. The sentence mandates that Meursault is to be beheaded by a guillotine.

Death 9: Meursault wonders if Marie is alive or dead. When he thinks that she may be dead, he does not care at all about her. He echoes the same sentiment to his impending doom and would not expect anyone to care about him if he were dead.

Death 10: Meursault begins to understand his mother's feelings and emotions towards the end of her life. He sees the end of his life coming immediately and feels strangely prepared. After he attacks the chaplain, it is almost as if he is ready to welcome death and understand Maman.

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