The Stranger

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The Stranger Book 1, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning is Saturday and Meursault takes the streetcar to the public beach where he runs into Marie Cordona, a former co-worker whom Meursault had "had a thing for." They swim together and flirt, Marie laughing and Meursault laying his head on her stomach as they share a float. They decide to go see a Fernandel movie together that night.
A Fernandel movie is a comedy. Meursault continues to be unburdened by his mother's death, frolicking and flirting light-heartedly on the beach with Marie.
Themes
Meaninglessness of Life and the Absurd Theme Icon
Chance and Interchangeability Theme Icon
Indifference and Passivity Theme Icon
Importance of Physical Experience Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
When they get dressed after swimming, Marie is startled to see that Meursault is wearing a mourning tie and further shocked to hear his mother died the day before. Meursault stops himself from apologizing, thinking, "it didn't mean anything. Besides, you always feel a little guilty." They still go to the movies. They feel each other up in the theater and Marie goes back to Meursault's apartment.
Meursault again startles those around him by failing to match social expectation. Marie (embodying conventional social norms) is startled because she expects someone who just buried his mother to be mourning and serious, not horsing around at the beach and watching comedies.
Themes
Meaninglessness of Life and the Absurd Theme Icon
Indifference and Passivity Theme Icon
Importance of Physical Experience Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
Meursault wakes alone on Sunday morning, bothered because he "hates Sundays." He sleeps till noon, smokes, and then spends the afternoon people watching on his balcony. He sees waves of families walking. When the crowds thin out, he assumes the matinée shows have begun. In the evening, he watches soccer fans returning from the stadiums, moviegoers going home, and young couples on dates. The street lamps go on, dimming the stars and making "the pavement glisten." Hair, mouths, and jewelry glisten too.
Though Meursault doesn't explain why he "hates Sundays," his hatred is likely connected to his distaste for Christianity. Though Meursault lives in a Christian society, Church is strikingly absent from his image of everyone else's Sunday. People go to movies and to sports games rather than to church. The glistening streets and women reinforce physicality over spirituality.
Themes
Meaninglessness of Life and the Absurd Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
As he goes to bed, Meursault notices the reflection in his mirror of "a corner of my table with my alcohol lamp next to some pieces of bread." He thinks nothing of it and feels he is back in his same routines, unchanged by Mme Meursault's death.
The image on the table evokes the holy communion (wine and bread on the alter) but empties it of all holiness and divine meaning. There is nothing transcendent about this wine, bread, and table.
Themes
Meaninglessness of Life and the Absurd Theme Icon
Indifference and Passivity Theme Icon
Importance of Physical Experience Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
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