Who is the stranger in The Stranger by Albert Camus?
The eponymous stranger in Albert Camus's novel is Meursault. Meursault is a stranger in various senses. The most obvious way in which he is a stranger is that he himself is French and of Mediterranean origin, but he is living in North Africa, in French Algeria. However, as Camus describes him in the novel, it is not that Meursault is a typical European man who finds it difficult to survive in a colonized North African culture. On the contrary, he "hardly partakes" of the traditions of his own European culture. At the beginning of the story, when his mother dies, Meursault attends her funeral and does not cry. Camus remarked, when writing about the book, that this marked Meursault out as a stranger in any culture; because he did not weep at his mother's funeral, he was not a person who behaved in the way in which most societies expect people to behave. He is a stranger, then, not only in Algeria, but as a member of the human race.
This is clearly shown during the trial, when Meursault sh0cks the courtroom not only with his evident lack of grief over his mother's death, but with his refusal to give a reason for his crime—the only motivation he can come up with is that the sun was in his eyes. Meursault similarly shocks the priest with his disinterest in the comforts of religion, and by the end of the novel, his acceptance of life's absurdity has made his status as a stranger in society complete. In place of human companionship, hope, or religious feeling, Meursault has, in his final hours, gained a sense of kinship with the "benign indifference of the universe" itself.