Suggested Essay Topics
Part 1, Chapter 1
1. Discuss how Meursault responds to his natural surroundings, especially the sun and heat.
2. Discuss Meursault’s feelings towards his mother when she was alive and his response when he learns of her death.
3. How do Meursault’s reactions to death and the grief of others differ from what society generally considers appropriate behavior?
Part 1, Chapter 2
1. After telling Marie about his mother’s death, Meursault mentions feeling “a bit guilty” about it. Why does Meursault feel the need to explain himself to both his employer and Marie?
2. Describe the way Meursault spends his Sunday. Why does he seem so content doing almost nothing?
3. Meursault doesn’t like Sundays because they disrupt his normal routine. Why do you think Meursault would be bothered by this?
Part 1, Chapter 3
1. Meursault focuses a great deal of attention on the mundane details of his life. Why do you think these details, and his daily routine, are so important to him?
2. How does Meursault feel when he sees old Salamano beating his dog? How does he feel when Raymond tells him he beat up his girlfriend? Discuss Meursault’s attitude in relation to these two events.
3. Discuss Meursault’s relationship with Raymond. How does he feel about becoming Raymond’s “pal,” and why would he agree to write such a deceitful letter for him?
Part 1, Chapter 4
1. When Marie asks Meursault if he loves her, he displays an indifferent, almost apathetic attitude towards her. Why would she continue to have a romantic interest in him?
2. Compare Meursault’s reaction to Thomas Perez’s grief over the mother’s death, and his reaction to old Salamano’s despair over his lost dog.
3. Considering his indifferent attitude, why would Meursault agree to be Raymond’s witness?
4. Since he treats his dog so harshly, why do you think Old Salamano is so upset when the dog runs away?
Part 1, Chapter 5
1. When the employer offers Meursault a new job, he suggests that a “change of life” might be good for him. Why would Meursault turn down the job in Paris?
2. Discuss Meursault’s feelings for Marie. He says he doesn’t love her, yet he wants to make her happy. Why would Meursault agree to marry Marie?
3. Discuss Meursault’s fascination with the “little robot” woman and her odd, mechanical actions.
Part 1, Chapter 6
1. Discuss Meursault’s reaction to the sunlight. How does it affect his moods and actions?
2. Why does Meursault talk Raymond out of shooting the Arab?
3. When Meursault shoots the Arab he tells us: “I knew I’d shattered the balance of the day…” What does he mean by this?
4. Why do you think Meursault is so reluctant to tell Marie and Madam Masson about the confrontation with the Arabs?
Part 2, Chapter 1
1. Meursault doesn’t explain why he assumes his case will be “very simple.” Discuss the reasons why Meursault might feel this way.
2. Why is the magistrate so upset when he talks to Meursault about God?
3. Why is the lawyer worried about Meursault’s behavior at his mother’s funeral?
Part 2, Chapter 2
1. Discuss how Meursault’s behavior and way of thinking change as he spends time in prison.
2. Why would Meursault tell the Arab prisoners about his crime? Why wouldn’t he consider inventing a story to protect himself?
3. Discuss why Meursault becomes so fascinated with the...
(The entire section is 835 words.)