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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
Illustrate how Meursault’s indifferent attitude and moral ambiguity is fundamentally at odds with society’s expectations of how a person should think and behave.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: In The Stranger, society views Meursault as a cold-hearted killer and a moral “blank.” It categorizes him as dangerous and evil because Meursault refuses to conform to society’s accepted standards of behavior.

II. Meursault’s attitude and behavior
A. At his mother’s vigil and the funeral
1. Meursault remains unemotional and detached
2. Doesn’t want to see his mother’s body
3. Drinks coffee and chats during the vigil
4. Offers no expression of comfort, or grief to his mother’s close friend, Thomas Perez
5. Doesn’t cry at the funeral
B. Relationship with Marie after the funeral
1. Marie’s reaction to Meursault when she learns about his mother
2. Meursault’s activities the day after his mother’s funeral
a. Swims with Marie
b. Goes out on a date and begins an affair with Marie
C. Friendship with Raymond and agreement to write the letter
1. Meursault never questions morality of writing such a letter
2. Society’s view of a man like Raymond and Meursault’s association with him
D. Murder of the Arab and reasons for pulling the trigger
1. Meursault shoots once, then fires four more times
2. Meursault’s bizarre explanation about “the sun”
E. No apparent remorse for crime
1. Inability to ever feel regret about anything
F. Meursault doesn’t believe in God

III. How society views Meursault
A. Behavior at the funeral is repugnant to many
B. Starts affair with Marie the day after the funeral
1. Meursault enjoys himself, even though his mother has just died
C. Why is Meursault Raymond’s friend?
1. Raymond has a bad reputation
2. Meursault must be involved with Raymond in some type of criminal activity
D. Why does Meursault murder the Arab?
1. No one understands Meursault’s explanation about the sun
2. Must be part of suspected criminal activity
3. Meursault “murdered” his mother by putting her in a nursing home. His crime is even worse than the parricide case
4. Therefore, Meursault is capable of anything
E. Refusal to believe in God proof of Meursault’s immorality
1. The magistrate’s appeal to Meursault with the crucifix
2. Meursault’s honesty interpreted as immorality
3. Meursault’s rejection of the chaplain and everything he represents

IV. Meursault’s understanding of himself and his actions
A. Alone in his cell, awaiting his execution, Meursault understands the significance of his behavior and crime
1. Final rejection of society and its attitude towards him

Topic #2
Discuss Meursault’s reaction to the sun and its effect on his mood and behavior.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Meursault behaves as if he were an element of nature, influenced by the sun, and not responsible for his actions.

II. Meursault and the sun
A. Meursault reacts to the sun and heat at his mother’s funeral
1. Reaction to sun supersedes other emotional reactions
2. This reaction...

(The entire section is 1,031 words.)