Sample Essay Outlines

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

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.


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 behaviorA. At his mother’s vigil and the funeral1. Meursault remains unemotional and detached2. Doesn’t want to see his mother’s body3. Drinks coffee and chats during the vigil4. Offers no expression of comfort, or grief to his mother’s close friend, Thomas Perez5. Doesn’t cry at the funeralB. Relationship with Marie after the funeral1. Marie’s reaction to Meursault when she learns about his mother2. Meursault’s activities the day after his mother’s funerala. Swims with Marieb. Goes out on a date and begins an affair with MarieC. Friendship with Raymond and agreement to write the letter1. Meursault never questions morality of writing such a letter2. Society’s view of a man like Raymond and Meursault’s association with himD. Murder of the Arab and reasons for pulling the trigger1. Meursault shoots once, then fires four more times2. Meursault’s bizarre explanation about “the sun”E. No apparent remorse for crime1. Inability to ever feel regret about anythingF. Meursault doesn’t believe in God

III. How society views MeursaultA. Behavior at the funeral is repugnant to manyB. Starts affair with Marie the day after the funeral1. Meursault enjoys himself, even though his mother has just diedC. Why is Meursault Raymond’s friend?1. Raymond has a bad reputation2. Meursault must be involved with Raymond in some type of criminal activityD. Why does Meursault murder the Arab?1. No one understands Meursault’s explanation about the sun2. Must be part of suspected criminal activity3. Meursault “murdered” his mother by putting her in a nursing home. His crime is even worse than the parricide case4. Therefore, Meursault is capable of anythingE. Refusal to believe in God proof of Meursault’s immorality1. The magistrate’s appeal to Meursault with the crucifix2. Meursault’s honesty interpreted as immorality3. Meursault’s rejection of the chaplain and everything he represents

IV. Meursault’s understanding of himself and his actionsA. Alone in his cell, awaiting his execution, Meursault understands the significance of his behavior and crime1. 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.


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 sunA. Meursault reacts to the sun and heat at his mother’s funeral1. Reaction to sun supersedes other emotional reactions2. This reaction misinterpreted by society which expects Meursault to behave in a conventional mannerB. Enjoying the sun with Marie while swimming1. The sun as source of pleasure2. Contrast to the heat and discomfort Meursault experienced on the bus and at the funeralC. Running in the sun with Emmanuel to catch the truck1. The sun blinding Meursault to everything but his most immediate desires, in this case, to catch the truckD. Meursault, Marie, and the sun on the beach1. The sun again supplying warmth and comfortE. Meursault on the beach with the Arab1. The heat and piercing sunlight conspire against Meursault


(This entire section contains 997 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Destructive power of the sunA. Meursault, estranged in the world, finds it impossible to relate to others in many situations when affected by the sunlight1. Meursault on the bus to the nursing home2. Sun influences his unusual behavior at the funeralB. Blinding sunlight leads to his shooting the Arab1. Moments leading up to the shooting2. Meursault’s decision not to go into the bungalow3. The sun drives Meursault towards the cool stream and the fateful meeting with the Arab4. The piercing sunlight in Meursault’s eyes5. The Arab’s shiny knifeC. Heat and sunlight in the courtroom1. Meursault unable to express himself to the judge and lawyersD. Meursault’s excuse about the sun is incomprehensible to everyone in the courtroom

IV. Meursault as an element of natureA. Meursault living from moment to moment, influenced by the changes of natureB. Meursault experiences no feelings of guilt or remorseC. The sun as an indifferent force in nature, responsible for either pleasure or painD. Meursault’s understanding of man’s place in the universeE. Contrast between Meursault’s life and the existence of the sun

Topic #3

The Stranger has been called an example of Camus’ belief that “a novel is a philosophy put into images.” Discuss how Camus’ understanding of the absurd is depicted in The Stranger.


I. Thesis Statement: Meursault’s actions and beliefs reflect the absurdist philosophy as understood by Camus.

II. Camus’ definition of the absurdA. Common personal experience of the absurd1. Mechanical nature of individual lives2. The inevitable passage of time3. Human sense of alienation and isolation4. Human beings’ place in the universeB. In literature and the arts1. Other works by Camus including The Myth of Sisyphus and Caligula2. Camus and the Theater of the Absurd

III. Sense of the absurd as reflected in The StrangerA. Meursault’s routine life1. His work and leisure time2. How Meursault spends his Sunday3. Encounter with the robot womanB. Meursault’s relationships1. His feelings for his mother, when she was alive and after her death2. Response to Marie’s asking if he loves her3. Acceptance of Raymond as his friend4. Attitude towards, and treatment of, old SalamanoC. Life and death1. Meursault’s reaction to the news of his mother’s death2. Killing the Arab3. Contemplating his execution4. Meaning of life in the face of deathD. Benign indifference of the universe1. Nature as a representative of neither good nor evil2. The permanence of the universe and the images of natureE. Meursault’s acceptance of his own death and his understanding that all people are “condemned to die”


Critical Evaluation