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In his novel "The Stranger," Albert Camus uses the relentless Algerian sun as a metaphor for the awareness of reality that pursues his main character, Meursault, throughout the novel. The plot is fashioned around three deaths: those of Meursault's mother, the Arab, and Meursault himself. At each of these key points in the novel, the sun, the symbol of awareness, presses upon Meursault. The purpose of the sun, it seems, is to make Meursault realize the absurdity of his existence.
Even the book's setting in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, underlines the thematic importance of the sun. The Algerian climate is typically hot, dry, and relentlessly sunny. As critic Jean-Paul Sartre writes, "Camus likes bright mornings, clear evenings, and relentless afternoons. His favorite season is Algiers' eternal summer. Night has hardly any place in his universe" (3). Thus, Meursault is confronted by the sun at every turn. At times he basks in the sun; at other times, he runs from it. His world is one of black and white, light and dark. In this world, the sun serves as a metaphor for Meursault's self-awareness. He is repeatedly confronted with the presence of life, the inevitability of death, and the absurdity of existence; but, repeatedly, he attempts to avoid these strands of awareness.