With the novel being set in Algeria, the images of sunlight and heat are prevalent throughout the book; but there are three times when these images are extremely significant to the plot. At his mother's burial, Mersault is unable to concentrate on the funeral rituals or think about her death because he is so miserable in the glaring sun and intense heat. All he can think about is escaping his misery and returning home.
When he travels to the beach house of Masson, Mersault is again bothered by the glaring sunlight and intense heat. In fact, his misery drives him to the stream to cool off. Unfortunately, the Arab brother of Raymond's girlfriend is relaxing by the stream. Mersault is so unsettled by the heat that he does not think straight. When he sees the Arab's knife flashing in the brilliant sunlight, he pulls his gun and fires a shot. With the sweat pouring into his eyes and the heat pounding on his brain, he fires four more bullets into the dead body, as if to make certain he were dead.
Again at the trial, Mersault is greatly affected by the heat of the courtroom.
He is so unsettled by his discomfort that he cannot concentrate on the
proceedings or formulate appropriate responses to the questions that he
is asked. His lack of explanations, which were influenced by the heat,
contributes to his condemnation.
1. Explain the meaning of the title as it relates to the plot
of the novel.
2. Explain why Mersault, the protagonist, is an absurd anti-hero.
3. What is Mersault's key antagonist?
4. Describe Marie. Why is she attracted to Mersault? What does this say about her? Why is Mersault attracted to Marie?
5. Describe Raymond. Why does Mersault, who is basically a loner, get involved with him?
6. Who is Salamano? Explain why you think Camus included him in the novel.
7. Explain how intense heat plays an important role in the plot.
8. Mersault is described as a "social monster." Do you agree with this assessment - explain why.
9. Explain the absurd elements of Mersault's trial and sentence.
10. Describe your reaction to the visit of the chaplain.
11. What gives Mersault a sense of peace and calm at the end of the book?
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