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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Stranger is a French novel by Albert Camus, set in French Algeria. It has been popular for many years since it was first published in 1942. The protagonist is a lonely and unhappy young man named Meursault who is out of step with the rest of society somewhat like Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment. Meursault is an iconoclast, a rebel, a defiant individualist, a complete outsider. He might also be compared to Alceste in Moliere's play The Misanthrope and even to Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

The story mainly deals with Meursault's murder of an Arab, his trial, his awaiting execution in solitary confinement. Camus was strongly opposed to capital punishment, and some of the best scenes in his novel deal with the emotions of the young protagonist while he is awaiting death by the guillotine.

Since The Stranger is such a famous and critically acclaimed novel that it is often assigned reading in literature classes, and there is considerable coverage of it in the eNotes Study Guide and Homework Help (see reference links below). It is interesting, thought-provoking, truthful, and easy to read.