The Stranger

Describe the “strange little woman” at Celeste’s. What key words paint a picture of her character? Do you think her life philosophy differs from Meursault?

in chapter 5

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Meursault has dinner at Céleste's. A strange little jerky woman joins him at his table. She eats feverishly and meticulously marks a radio program schedule. He follows her for a few minutes when she leaves but then forgets about her. The little robot-like woman who sits with Meursault provides an interesting contrast to his own character. By this point in the book the reader has likely started to wonder if Meursault is himself a robot, going through the motions of life and routine and asking little else but to continue in this pattern. Yet for Meursault his routine and indifference is a choice and a stop on his progression toward finding meaning in a meaningless universe. His character, though changing little over the course of the novel until the end, is a work in progress and will have the suggestions of more than one dimension. The robot woman intrigues Meursault through her feverish, robotic movement. It is as if she is propelled ahead by some strange motivation which Meursault cannot grasp. She is so meticulous about her radio program schedule that she appears ridiculous. When she rises from her seat she moves through the crowd with such assurance and speed that she never needs to swerve. Here is a predestined preprogrammed woman. Her life is not a choice but a program. Meursault forgets her soon because she is not real or true to herself.