Reading Questions THE STRANGER PART ONE

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1 I Reading Questions THE STRANGER PART ONE 1. What meaning can be drawn from the novel s opening line: Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can t be sure. What are his feelings toward his mother? Why way she placed in the Home for Aged Persons? How often did he visit her? 2. What impression do you get of our narrator, Meursault? What evidence is there that he understands normal social behavior, but these social norms are not entirely engrained in his psyche or natural behavior? What social norms are projected onto him, and his mother? 3. Considering the form of the novel, what doe you notice about the sentence structure? What significance does this have? 4. What commentary is provided on freedom and our attitudes towards death? Consider: a) Meursault s commenting that the warden wasn t free upon entering the Home; b) why the warden swiftly moved Meursault s mother to the mortuary; c) why the keeper denies that he is an inmate like the others. 5. Closely examine the character of the Arab nurse. What particular things do you note about her? 6. Examine the narrator s behavior during the overnight observance. What strikes you as strange? 7. How does Meursault describe the natural environment while waiting in the courtyard and during the funeral precessions? How do these descriptions differ from his earlier observances? What significance do you place on his calling the landscape inhuman? 8. What irony can be found in Perez inability to keep pace with the processions? What meaning can be found in his physical limp? 9. Explain Meursault s reply to the nurse at the end of the chapter: I saw her point; either way one was in for it.

2 II 10. How does Meursault describe Marie? Her looks? Her personality? How does he describe his feelings toward her? 11. What does Meursault do on Sunday? What does he observe? What judgments are made? What do we know of his wants and likes? 12. What meaning can you infer from how Meursault spends his weekend following his mother s funeral, and his closing thoughts of the chapter: Really, nothing in my life had changed? III 13. What do we learn about Meursault s neighbors, Salamano and Raymond Sintes? What meaning can we find in their behavior and routines, and Meursault s judgments of their respective lifestyles? 14. Why initially leads to Meursault s friendship with Raymond? What comment does Ray make that Meursault appreciates? 15. Considering their moral character, how does Raymond serve as a foil for Meursault? 16. What significance can be made from Meursault s closing simile at the end of the chapter? IV 17. What do you make of Meursault s relationship with Marie, and his response to her thoughts on love? How does this show his ignorance? 18. What happens between Raymond and his girlfriend? What is the significance of Meursault s reaction to this, as well as that of the police officer upon arriving at the scene? 19. How does Meursault show a lack of sensitivity when Salamano s dog escapes?

3 V 20. How does Meursault react to his employer s offer? What philosophy of life does Meursault promote? 21. How does Meursault respond to Marie s proposal? How does this reaction align with his philosophy on life? What does this tell you about his understanding of the significance of certain human events/relationships and his perception of time? 22. How does Meursault describe the odd-looking woman at Celeste s? Do you think her life philosophy differs from Meursault s? 23. What is the significance of the fate that befalls Salamano s wife, his reasoning for his getting a dog, and his dog s physical deterioration? 24. Why does Salamono believe Meursault sent his mother to the Home? How does this differ Meursault s reasoning? Why does Salamono s attempt to explain Meursault s feelings toward his mother and justify Meursault s actions? Who is he really comforting? VI 25. What factors impacted Meursault s feeling under the weather? Over the course of the chapter, what leads to his feeling better? 26. What is the gradual, but significant change Meursault undergoes as the chapter progresses? What leads to this change? Consider: a) Meursault s thoughts on marrying Marie; b) his activity after lunch; c) the directions given by Raymond just before their first physical encounter with the Arabs; d) his advice/direction to Raymond prior to their second physical encounter with the Arabs. 27. During the 2nd exchange with the Arabs, analyze Meursault s thoughts while holding the revolver? 28. Why does Meursault return to the beach, alone? How does he describe the physical environment of the beach? Why doesn t he flee upon seeing the Arab? Did he intend to kill him? What role does the environment play? Why does he fire four shots more?

4 PART TWO I 29. Describe Meursault s attitude upon his arrest and questioning. Does he regret what he s done? How does this support his view of life? 30. What is significant of Meursault s initial interaction with his lawyer, and his comment toward Merusault s never having had any dealings with the law? 31. What is significant about the argument between the magistrate and Meursault? Why is Meursault later referred to as the Antichrist? II 32. Initially, why was it so easy for Meursault to accept his environment? What would he eventually come to realize, that which he never liked to talk about? What does he find the most irksome in regards to his imprisonment? Finally, why does it become so easy for Meursault to accept his environment? 33. What was Meursault s most difficult problem? Did this problem exist when he was not confined to prison? Compare and contrast how he deals with this problem in prison, and as a free man. 34. What is the content of the newspaper article Meursault discovers under his mattress? What is its significance with the Absurd? 35. How does Meursault s concept of time change while in prison? 36. What is the significance of Meursault s (1) awareness of his own voice, and (2) recalling the nurse s remark the novel s first chapter? III 37. What parallelism is there between the day that the Arab was shot and Meursault s first day at court?

5 38. Upon observing the people within the courtroom greeting each, we see some signs of emotion from Meursault. What causes them? 39. Once the trial begins, what does each of the eight witnesses offer to the case? Why are some testimonies given more weight than others? 1. Warden: 5. Marie: 2. Door Keeper: 6. Masson: 3. Thomas Perez: 7. Salamano: 4. Celeste: 8. Raymond: IV 40. How does the trial reflect Meursault s philosophy of life? Consider: a) Meursault s reflection on what was discussed during the trial; b) Meursault s involvement in his own defense; c) Meursault s thoughts on regret; 41. Why does the Prosecutor, in his closing remarks, ask for the death penalty and justify the sentence by identifying Meursault as having no soul, as being a menace to society, as having no place in a community, and that there was nothing human about him? 42. How does Meursault respond to the Prosecutor s closing remarks? What does he claim to be the reason he killed the Arab? What does this tell you about Meursault? 43. What is the significance of Meursault s lawyer s use of I? How are the defense lawyer s closing remarks no different from the Prosecutor s? What is it that they (and society) demand? How does this show the absurdity of the courtroom and what it represents in society? How does this reveal the flaw of Meursault s current participation on life? 44. Once the sentence of death is delivered, why do the people that once loathed Meursault suddenly seem to look on him more pleasantly, with a degree of respectful sympathy?

6 V 45. Analyze the chapters opening sentence: I have just refused, for the third time, to see the prison chaplain. What is symbolic there? 46. What is ironic about his attempt to circumvent the machine of justice, to learn if the inevitable admits a loophole in order to enable his stampede to freedom from the rattrap irrevocability. What effect do these thoughts have on Meursault? 47. What is Meursault s view of death? of the afterlife? 48. Why does he say that the chaplain is living like a corpse? 49. What thoughts does Meursault express when something breaks inside him and attacks the chaplain? What is he referring to when he claims that he was always right? What is the significance of his stating, from the dark horizon of my future a sort of slow, persistent breeze had been blowing toward me, all my life long? 50. Why does he come to learn about his mother? 51. Explain how Meursault doesn t become completely free until he becomes emptied of hope? Why is his only hope that on the day of his execution, a huge crowd of spectators greet him with howls of execration? Being and Time, by Martin Heidegger (1927) BEING Animal Awareness: Spiritual Awareness: TIME Natural Time: Scientific Time:

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