The Stranger Part I Chapters 1 and 2 Summary

     This first-person narrative written by Albert Camus features Monsieur Meursault, whose first name is never revealed. Chapter one begins with the news of his mother's death. He had to travel from Algiers, where he lived, to the old people's home, where his mother had lived for the past three years, for the funeral. The caretaker met him and explained that his mother had been happy there, making friends, and he understood why Meursault had sent her. The director asked if Meursault wanted to view the body, but he declined. He sat by her body overnight, as a kind of vigil, while a few elderly people visited. While sitting by the closed coffin, Meursault shared a cigarette with the caretaker, drank some coffee, and later took a nap. The next morning, the guests who had bothered Meursault with their various noises throughout the night, shook his hand and left.

     At ten o'clock the procession would then take the casket to the church, and Meursault was expected to follow. He was joined in this long walk by Thomas Perez, whom he learned had formed a close relationship with his Maman. Due to the hot weather, it was a difficult journey, and at the end Perez fainted. Never throughout the entire process did Meursault cry or show any signs of emotion.

     In chapter two the following day was Saturday, so Meursault got up and decided to go for a swim. In the water he ran into a former employee from his office named Marie. They agreed to meet up to see a movie that evening. Marie seemed a bit shocked that Meursault had been at the funeral of his mother the previous day, but she didn't let it stop her from enjoying the film with him.

     When he woke the next morning, Marie was gone, presumably to her aunt's house as she had explained the day before. Since it was Sunday, Meursault didn't have anything to do. He looked out his window most of the day. Before going to bed, he realized he would have to go back to work the next day and that things were basically the same as they were before.

     It is clear from the attention to detail, yet very unfeeling writing, that Meursault may have some sort of issues. He doesn't behave as many people feel or expect that he should. Prone to sensory overload yet unwilling to show any emotions, he seems very isolated and awkward living in his small apartment all alone.

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