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The Stranger: Part One – Chapter Two

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Summary – Chapter Two

The next day Meursault thinks he realizes why his employer looked so glum when he told him he asked for time off for the funeral. It is now Saturday and thinks his employer saw that it meant he would have four days’ holiday. He considers how it is not his fault his mother was buried yesterday and not today, and would have had the weekend off anyway, but still sees his employer’s point of view. He wonders how to spend the day and decides to go for a swim.


He goes down to the harbour and sees Marie Cardona who used to be a typist at his office. As he helps her climb on a raft his hands stray over her breasts and half jokingly lets his head sink on her lap and she does not seem to mind. They stay there for over half an hour and then go to swim again when the sun becomes too hot.


As they dry, he asks if she will come to the cinema that night and she agrees. They dress and she notices his black tie and asks if he is in mourning. He explains he is, for his mother, and that she died yesterday. He thinks she shrinks away a little and he almost says it is not his fault as he did to his employer, but stops himself. Anyhow, she comes to the cinema with him (and they watch a comedy) and she comes back to his place afterwards.


When he wakes up, Marie has gone to see her aunt and he stays in bed as he has never cared for Sundays. He usually goes to Celeste’s restaurant but does not want to be pestered with questions. He cooks eggs and eats them from the pan. He then roams the flat which he sees as too large now he is alone. He moved the dining table into his bedroom and now does not use the rest of it as he does not want the bother of looking after it.


For want of anything to do, he picks up an old newspaper from the floor, reads it and cuts out an advertisement (for Kruschen Salts). He pastes it into an album where he keeps cuttings that amuse him. As a last resort for something to do, he goes on to the balcony and watches the few people passing by. He also notices the sky changing from cloudless to cloudy to a reddish glow. As dusk sets in, he watches people return home. The streetlamps come on and the sky is velvety black. He eats standing up and looks at the reflection in the mirror. He considers how he has ‘got through another Sunday’, his mother is buried and he will be back at work tomorrow: ‘Really, nothing in my life had changed.’


Analysis – Chapter Two

Chapter Two focuses on the two days after his mother’s funeral and is careful to depict him as continuing with his life and to the outsider (the reader) it is as though nothing has happened. This judgement is reaffirmed by Meursault in his view that ‘really, nothing in my life had changed’. From a moralistic perspective, it is as if he does not care for his mother. However, if one reads this closely, and without hypocrisy, Meursault continues with his life as he has lived it (without his mother) and demonstrates that he is human with human failings rather than being a hypocrite that claims to be devastated by loss. His reaction to her death may arouse shock in the reader, but this may also be interpreted as a demonstration of the ultimate insignificance of all our lives.


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