The family tree of a character should illustrate the relationships in their family. Sometimes, a character can have an intricate family tree that spans generations. The complex relationships within the family will be integral to the plot. However, it might be hard to follow the plot because the relationships aren’t so easy to keep track of. This is why some authors include a family tree for reference. Other times, an author leaves out a family tree and then a scholar comes along and inserts one later on.
For example, in Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights, the relationships between the family members can get confusing. Thus, in the 1960 Washington Square Press edition, the Harvard critic Albert J. Guerard includes a family tree in his preface so that it’s clear how Catherine Earnshaw, one of the main characters, is related to the other characters in the novel.
A family tree for a character in Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger will not be as complicated as Earnshaw’s family tree, but it will be crucial nonetheless. The main character’s family tree will be a tiny tree. Mesursault doesn’t mention grandparents, siblings, aunts, or uncles. The family members he mentions are his dad, who’s already dead, and his mom, who dies by the end of the novel’s first paragraph. Of course, Mesursault’s stoic response to his mom’s death plays a big role later on.