The Stranger

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Stranger Book 1, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next Saturday Marie comes over as planned wearing a dress that makes Meursault want her more than ever. They go to another beach and then Marie spends the night, this time staying through lunch on Sunday. She asks Meursault if he loves her. Meursault "told her it didn't mean anything but I didn't think so. She looked sad," but soon she laughs again in the way that makes Meursault want to kiss her.
There's nothing equivocal about Meursault's physical attraction to Marie – he is filled with desire for her by her dress, by her laugh, etc. Yet he seems entirely to lack any sense of a deeper romantic bond. Though Meursault says love doesn't "mean anything," it obviously means something to Marie.
Themes
Meaninglessness of Life and the Absurd Theme Icon
Indifference and Passivity Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
They hear a woman screaming and being beaten in Raymond's apartment. When Marie asks Meursault to get the police, Meursault tells her he doesn't like policeman. Another neighbor gets one, though, and Raymond opens the door to him, mumbling with a cigarette. The policeman slaps Raymond hard when he refuses to take the cigarette out of his mouth. The crying, beaten woman claims Raymond is a pimp, and the policeman helps her out of the apartment. Raymond says the woman is lying. Marie loses her appetite.
Does Meursault refuse to get a policeman to protect Raymond or for more selfish reasons (because he genuinely "doesn't like policeman")? Based on Meursault's behavior thus far in the novel, it's likely the latter. Yet whatever the reason, his impulse is disturbing – he would rather let a woman get beat up than interfere. Raymond had meant to shame his mistress but the policeman shames him.
Themes
Indifference and Passivity Theme Icon
Relationships Theme Icon
Later, Raymond tells Meursault he knows all about cops and that the cop can't change the fact that his mistress got her punishment. He asks Meursault if he'd "expected him to hit the cop back" and is pleased when Meursault says no. Meursault agrees to act as a witness to the fact that the woman cheated on Raymond. Raymond, happy at his revenge, acts friendly, buys Meursault a drink, and the two walk, sharing what Meursault calls "a nice moment."
Raymond is anxious about his public image – he asks Meursault about what Meursault "expected," trying to gauge whether he lived up to people's expectations. He is relieved to find out he did. Meursault's feelings (if you can call them feelings) for Raymond are curiously unaffected by explicit evidence of Raymond's cruelty.
Themes
Relationships Theme Icon
Upon returning to his building, Meursault runs into a flustered Salamano, distraught at the loss of his dog and alternately fretting anxiously for the dog's safety and damning the dog's worthlessness. While fretting, he trembles and asks Meursault, "what's going to happen to me?" He worries no one will take the dog in because of its scabs. Later, Meursault hears Salamano crying and "for some reason…thought of Maman."
Salamano loved his dog deeply, even if that love was concealed by abuse. He may feel he loved the dog in spite of himself. Even now, he denies his love by damning the dog, but love prevails. Though Meursault claims not to understand his comparison, his thought of his mother references the fact that Mme Meursault, too, lost a companion – him, Meursault, her son.
Themes
Relationships Theme Icon
Get the entire The Stranger LitChart as a printable PDF.
The stranger.pdf.medium