The narrator and main character of the narrative, he is the driving force behind Camus' examination of the Absurd. He, like the author, does not believe in God and comes to the realization that one must struggle against and with the Absurd in order to create meaning in a meaningless world. He leads a highly indifferent life through much of the book, reveling in the physical impulses which made him happy such as swimming and sex and smoking. The second half of the book turns the man who does not judge into the judged as the reader watches him indicted for the crime of not giving into society's code of morals or sense of fate and the divine. The ridiculousness of the trial and his reaction to it allows him to finally transcend its symbolic imprisonment and free himself for a life beyond what society could offer him.
His supervisor at Meursault's work, he is annoyed to give Meursault a total of four days off even though two are to attend his mother's funeral. He is kinder afterwards, asking about his mother and offering him the chance to move to Paris. Meursault refusal angers him as he cannot understand such a lack of ambition.
A friend of Meursault's, Céleste owns a nearby restaurant which Meursault dines at regularly. They have gone to races and such together. He shows much support at the trial for Meursault and expresses the desire to do more for him than he really can.
A character solely through reference, Maman's death begins the story and indicts Meursault in the end. She had lived with Meursault until he could no longer afford to care for her and they had nothing left to say to each other. At the home, she becomes intimate with Pérez and Meursault understands this action at the end as he realizes she was living it all again. In the face of society, Meursault is condemned for his lack of sadness at her funeral and we learn at the trial that she did harbor resentment toward Meursault for placing her in the home. Meursault references her anecdotes and stories while in jail.
Director of the home
In charge of the home, he leads Meursault through the funeral process. At the trial he testifies to Meursault's coldness during the funeral.
Also a witness against Meursault, he is in charge of the mourning night at Maman's coffin. He lives and works at the home, telling Meursault some of his past. He smokes and has coffee with Meursault while mourning.
Maman's fiancé from the home, he is too overwhelmed by sadness at the funeral to notice much of how Meursault reacts. He is the only resident of the home allowed to attend the funeral and weeps all the way there, often taking shortcuts to keep up.
A nurse at the home and accompanying the funeral procession, she speaks briefly with Meursault before entering the church. He remembers her words shortly before his death and their sentiment that there was no way out.
Meursault's girlfriend, she was a typist formerly at Meursault's office where they first met. The day after the funeral, she meets Meursault at the beach and continues to date him afterward. She is slightly disturbed by his abnormal behavior but still wants to marry him knowing he does not love her. Meursault likes her for her beautiful body, playfulness, and laughter. She makes him happy. He looks for her face in prison but never finds it and she has long since stopped writing.
A friend of Meursault's from his office, they are friends outside of the office as well. They jump onto a moving fire truck and go to movies which Meursault often has to explain to Emmanuel.
Living with a repulsive spaniel he resembles in Meursault's building, the two amuse Meursault because of their routine love/hate relationship. He is abusive toward the dog but shows a more compassionate side once the dog is lost. He understands Meursault's treatment of his mother and testifies for him at the trial.
Reputed to be a pimp, Raymond also lives in Meursault's building. He befriends Meursault because he is willing to listen and he helps Raymond get back at his cheating mistress. They become pals and he intertwines Meursault in his conflict with the Arab Meursault ends up shooting. He also testifies for Meursault but ends up making Meursault look like his accomplice.
A strange, jerky woman who sits with Meursault one time at Closets. Her very patterned, robotic movement intrigues Meursault but he forgets about her until she attends his trial as an observer.
Owner of the beach cottage and friend of Raymond's, Masson is visited by Meursault, Marie and Raymond on the day of the crime. He and his wife host the three as they swim and eat. Masson helps Raymond with fighting the Arabs the first time they meet on the beach but is not present later. He testifies that Meursault is a decent man.
Running the preliminary investigation into Meursault and his story of the crime, he tries to make Meursault repent by showing him a crucifix. Even though this tactic is unsuccessful, he and Meursault are still on cordial terms and Meursault often looks forward to the times he, the magistrate, and his lawyer meet cordially.
Disturbed by the effect Meursault's indifferent responses to the crime and Maman's funeral may have on the jury, he has Meursault speak little at the trial. Meursault feels that his summation is weak but his friends applaud it as excellent. Though he is sure the outcome will be favorable, the punishment is for death and he never notifies Meursault with information on an appeal.
The priest who visits Meursault in his cell after he is condemned to death, he struggles to make Meursault admit to a faith or trust in God and is frustrated repeatedly. He is denied three times by Meursault by the time they speak and then, he is still unable to sway Meursault. Meursault's outrage toward the chaplain, which erupts after more and more questioning, allows him the moment he has been waiting for his entire life, vindication.
The Stranger Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Stranger is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
During her first few weeks at the Home she used to cry a good deal. But that was only because she hadn’t settled down. After a month or two she’d have cried if she’d been told to leave the Home. Because this, too, would have been a...
Meursault's existential noir continues to the very end of the story. Although he felt much of his life to be meaningless, a crowd would at least amuse him at his execution. The irony of his meaningless death draws the crowed into frenzy. Mersault...