Published on

The Stranger


The Stranger by Albert Camus: A Summary

Albert Camus's novel "The Stranger" is a profound exploration of existential themes, focusing on the life of its protagonist, Meursault. Set in French-colonized Algeria, the narrative delves into Meursault's indifferent attitude towards life and the absurdity of existence. This summary aims to encapsulate the key elements of the story and its philosophical underpinnings.

Plot Summary

"The Stranger" opens with Meursault receiving news of his mother's death. His lack of emotional response to her passing sets the tone for his character's detachment from society and norms. The narrative follows his life in Algiers, where he forms relationships, commits a senseless murder, and faces the consequences of his actions.

Key Themes

  • Absurdity of Life: Camus illustrates the inherent absurdity of life through Meursault's experiences and his reactions to societal expectations.
  • Existentialism and Indifference: Meursault embodies existentialist ideals, living without seeking deeper meaning in his actions or emotions.
  • Confrontation with Death: The novel examines how individuals confront death, both metaphorically through Meursault's emotional detachment and literally in his trial and sentencing.
  • Alienation: Meursault's inability to conform to social norms isolates him from society, making him a stranger to those around him.


  • Meursault: The protagonist, whose emotional indifference and existential views drive the narrative.
  • Marie: A former colleague and love interest of Meursault, representing normal societal behaviors and expectations.
  • Raymond: A neighbor involved with unsavory characters, whose actions indirectly lead to Meursault's crime.


In the climactic trial, Meursault's fate is sealed more by his inability to express conventional emotions than by his actual crime. His reflections in prison touch upon the absurdity of life and the inevitability of death, culminating in his acceptance of the meaninglessness of existence.

Philosophical Implications

Camus uses "The Stranger" to explore existentialism, particularly the concept of the absurd. Meursault's life and the events he navigates underscore the novel's message that searching for meaning in an indifferent universe is futile.

Reception and Legacy

Since its publication, "The Stranger" has been celebrated for its stark portrayal of existential despair and its critique of societal norms. It remains a cornerstone of existential literature and a profound commentary on the human condition.