Part 1, Chapter 2
Meursault wakes up in his own bed on Saturday morning, a day after the funeral. He realizes that his boss didn’t want to give him the days off, because with Thursday and Friday off he has a four-day weekend. He decides to enjoy himself and go down to the beach, where he runs into Marie, a former coworker of his. He spends the day swimming with her and then takes her to see a movie (a comedy). Marie spends the night.
In the morning, Marie leaves, and Meursault eats breakfast alone. It’s a nice afternoon, so he sits in front of his window and watches the people below. First, families fill the streets, and he sees children running around in dresses and patent-leather shoes. Then the street clears for a while, only to be filled again by the fans of the local soccer team. As the evening wears on, many different kinds of people pass under Meursault’s window. Though he never explicitly says so, he seems to find them beautiful and interesting. In spite of Maman’s death, nothing has changed.
One example of this is the phrase “some saggy straw chairs.” It’s important to note, however, that The Stranger was written in French and only translated into English after its original publication. It’s therefore important to keep in mind that some of these word choices are not Camus’s own.
Fernandel (1903–1971). A French actor and singer. Fernandel was the leading comic actor of his generation. In part 2 of the novel, the prosecutor in Meursault’s trial will make much of the fact that Meursault went to see a comedy the day after his mother’s funeral.
Meursault uses a hyperbole when he says, “I had the whole sky in my eyes.”
Colors. In the previous chapter, red and white appeared as symbols of death and the afterlife. Here, color reappears as a motif that will weave through the entire novel. When Meursault goes swimming in the sea, he looks up at the beautiful “blue and gold” of the sky. His reaction to these colors stands in stark contrast to the irritation he felt when faced with sunlight in the previous chapter.
Light. Light inspires very different emotions in this chapter than in the previous one. The heat and light that he described as “oppressive” before appears here as a thing of beauty, gleaming on the water and on the lush, shiny hair of women he finds beautiful. This change appears to be a direct result of Meursault’s new relationship with Marie. He seems to be the kind of man who only truly finds beauty in women and sex (topics he doesn’t generally like to discuss).
Guilt. This chapter includes what may be Meursault’s one admission of guilt: “Besides, you always feel a little guilty.” He says this in relation to his mother’s death, which isn’t his fault, he says, but still makes him feel guilty. This could indicate that he does have some love for his mother, or it could just be an acknowledgment of the absurd responses to death that have been ingrained in society. Either way, it’s telling that Meursault admits to some guilt over his mother’s death but will never express remorse for his crimes later in the novel.