Notes on The Stranger Themes

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The Stranger Topic Tracking: Detachment

Detachment 1: When Meursault recalls his mother's death, he elicits little to no emotion of her memory. He feels detached from her life, her death, and her entire being, for he had previously put her in a home. He is detached, both emotionally and physically, from his mother; so, when she passes away, nothing truly changes in his life.

Detachment 2: Meursault is initially apprehensive about speaking with the caretaker so soon after his mother's death. He is even more concerned about drinking and smoking a cigarette in front of her dead body. However, he soon forgets both her presence and his attachment towards her, and lights a cigarette.

Detachment 3: Although Meursault's body is present at his mother's burial plot, his mind is elsewhere. He can think of only his home in Algiers and his desire to be in bed, as opposed to standing outside in the heat. He is quite detached from the idea of a funeral, and rather sees the afternoon as an annoying day outside.

Detachment 4: When Meursault and Raymond meet and begin to talk, they realize that they share the same detachment sentiment about humanity and relationships. Raymond understands Meursault's mentality of not openly speaking about his mother's death and his emotions (or lack thereof) with Marie. They share the feeling of wanting to be alone, without others disturbing their solidarity.

Detachment 5: When Raymond beats his ex-girlfriend, Meursault is slightly shocked. Still, he and Raymond feel no remorse for having inflicted violence on another human being. After the matter has passed and Meursault promises to support Raymond with the police, the two men fall back into the same state of thought as before. They seem detached and indifferent from the fighting and violence.

Detachment 6: After Meursault's boss calls him into his office to criticize his work ethic and lack of professional motivation, Meursault returns to his desk and continues on with his work as if nothing had happened. Where a typical response would be fear or sadness, Meursault is indifferent. It matters little to him whether he works for the company or not.

Detachment 7: Only after the police begin to question him, does Meursault realize that he has, in fact, killed a man. He does not understand why the police continue to question him and feels detached from the current legal situation.

Detachment 8: Meursault feels distant from Marie when he sees her briefly during visiting hours. He believes that he could get used to any type of life, regardless of the constraints and frustration, without friendship, without family. Those "extra" portions of life are detached from what he considers to be important.

Detachment 9: Meursault has difficulty understanding his connection with the case. When the court proceedings begin, he often feels detached and distant from his body and entire self. He wonders about the murderer on trial and suddenly remembers that it is he who is on trial and must deal with the consequences of his actions.

Detachment 10: Marie's testimony is the ultimate clincher in Meursault's case that illustrates his detachment. Her words prove - to the court - that Meursault engaged in happy, sensual actions immediately following his mother's death. According to the court, this detached sentiment seems flawless proof of his guilt.

Detachment 11: As the trial concludes and the lawyers present their summations, Meursault listens as if he is just another member of the audience. He has difficulty understanding and believing that it is he who is on trial.

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