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The Stranger
Albert Camus


A STEP BEYOND

TESTS AND ANSWERS

TEST 1

_____ 1. Thomas Perez serves as a foil to Meursault by

    A. representing age versus youth
    B. grieving for Meursault's mother
    C. getting lost on the way to the funeral
_____ 2. Meursault is criticized by his neighbors and later by the court for
    A. having seen a comic film the day after his mother was buried
    B. having written a nasty letter to Raymond's girlfriend
    C. saying he doesn't love Marie
_____ 3. The prosecutor depicts Meursault as
    A. a religious fanatic
    B. a dangerous killer who is a threat to society
    C. an insane man who should be locked up
_____ 4. Meursault's lack of enthusiasm about a job offer in Paris
    A. pleases his boss, because Meursault is showing loyalty
    B. makes Marie happy, because she's sure if he stays he'll marry her
    C. illustrates Meursault's different values
_____ 5. Meursault takes Raymond's revolver because he
    A. plans to kill the Arab
    B. thinks about suicide
    C. thinks Raymond is going to use it
_____ 6. Meursault agrees to marry Marie even though he doesn't love her because
    A. everybody he knows is getting married
    B. she wants to get married and at the moment he wants to please her
    C. he is afraid of what the neighbors will say about their affair
_____ 7. Meursault writes a letter to Raymond's girlfriend because
    A. he thinks she deserves punishment
    B. Raymond won't be his friend if he refuses
    C. it doesn't much matter what he does and saying yes is easy
_____ 8. In the courtroom, Meursault says he killed the Arab
    A. because he was drunk
    B. because of the sun
    C. in self-defense
_____ 9. The major theme of The Stranger concerns the
    A. consequences of living in an absurd world
    B. nature of Arab-French relations
    C. irrationality of human nature
_____ 10. Meursault is obsessed with
    A. the physical experiences of the present moment
    B. his relationship with his parents
    C. his friendship with Raymond

11. Write about Camus's use of water and sunlight, and discuss the effect that these natural elements have on Meursault.

12. What influence did Camus's North African background have on the ideas he expressed in The Stranger?

13. Discuss the evolution (or lack thereof) of Meursault's personality, with special emphasis on how his prison experiences may have affected his attitude toward life.

TEST 2

_____ 1. Meursault's lawyer advises him

    A. to deny that he went to the movies with Marie
    B. not to speak out in his own defense at the trial
    C. to admit that he killed the Arab
_____ 2. Camus compares the environment in the courtroom to a
    A. small-town social
    B. bad dream
    C. football stadium
_____ 3. The magistrate tries to convince Meursault
    A. that he was wrong for killing the Arab
    B. of the existence of God
    C. to plead self-defense
_____ 4. In Part One, Meursault goes to the police station to
    A. complain about the Arabs
    B. see whether there are any charges against him
    C. testify in Raymond's defense
_____ 5. Meursault describes Paris to Marie as
    A. a place to go to after they're married
    B. no different from Algiers
    C. a dingy sort of town
_____ 6. Meursault initially accepts Raymond's offer to go to his apartment because
    A. he's interested in his neighbor's problems
    B. it will save him from having to prepare his own dinner
    C. he wants to meet Raymond's girlfriend
_____ 7. Meursault's "strangeness" is based on
    A. his willingness to do what other people tell him
    B. the manner in which he dresses
    C. his inability to conform to other people's expectations
_____ 8. The chaplain tries to convince Meursault to
    A. appeal the case
    B. marry Marie
    C. atone for his sin
_____ 9. While in prison, Meursault
    A. contemplates suicide
    B. thinks about his life
    C. helps to prepare his own defense
_____ 10. For Meursault, the "nameless hour" is
    A. dawn
    B. midnight
    C. early evening

11. Describe the concept of justice as it's depicted in the novel.

12. Meursault refuses to "play the game" of society. In that respect, discuss the characters of the chaplain, the lawyer, and the magistrate. What games are they playing?

13. In the last sentence of the book, why does Meursault wish for a crowd of angry spectators to appear at his execution?

ANSWERS

TEST 1
  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. C
  6. B
  7. C
  8. B
  9. A
  10. A

11. Water and sunlight are symbols of the real world, the world of the present. You can describe the pleasure Meursault takes in swimming and in feeling the sun on his face, and how the same sun later is harsh and blinding. He says he killed the Arab "because of the sun." Discuss Meursault's relationship to water- swimming and washing his hands. You might feel that Meursault's relationship to water and sunlight is a form of religion; if so, explain why. You can point out that all the other characters in the book are so engrossed in playing the games- religion, justice, love that society has created for them that, except for Marie, these people have little relation to the natural world. Describe Meursault's devotion to the natural universe, and tell whether his way of seeing the world is more, or less, valid than any other.

12. Camus's memories of his early childhood had important influence on his writings (see "The Author and His Times" section in this guide). Being born in North Africa exposed him to a culture that was in sharp contrast to the European culture with which he's also usually associated. Explain how the blend of the two cultures gave his writing an added dimension and allowed him to view European thought from a unique perspective. Discuss the North African setting and how the intense physical environment may have affected Camus's idea of living solely for the present moment. Write about how the sensuality of the environment- and the natural beauty- probably influenced his sense of love and freedom. You might point out that, for Camus, the beauty of the natural environment was always viewed in direct contrast to the poverty of the North African people.

13. If you feel Meursault's personality changes in the course of the novel, you might note the following points. In Part One, Meursault is seen as a relatively passive person who cares about little else than the pleasures of the moment. He doesn't care whether he does one thing or another; and everything that happens to him- meeting Marie, becoming involved with Raymond, killing the Arab- is the result of "chance". In Part Two, however, Meursault gains perspective on his old life and experiences feelings of deprivation. Before, it didn't seem to matter to him whether he lived or died, but now he realizes that all his former pleasures were truly important to him. You can still take pleasure in life and seek happiness, he decides, even though you know that ultimately you're going to die. You may want to say that in prison Meursault finds solidarity with others who share the predicament of life's absurdity.

If you feel Meursault's personality remains constant during the novel, you should note similarities in his behavior in Parts One and Two. You may want to argue that Meursault may undergo superficial change, but that in essence his personality remains the same.

TEST 2

  1. B
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. C
  6. B
  7. C
  8. C
  9. B
  10. C

11. According to Camus, justice is one of the games society plays. Neither the lawyer nor the magistrate seems to be particularly interested in the truth or in justice; what they want is to convince Meursault that he has to conform to society's rules. Write about the methods of Meursault's lawyer in handling the case. Justice, on Camus's terms, seems to depend principally on the skillfulness of the party putting forth the argument; it has little to do with the truth. You can explain how the prosecutor develops his case and how he interprets the testimony of the witnesses to get his point across. Compare the closing speeches of both the prosecutor and Meursault's lawyer. Write about the judge's description of himself as an "umpire" and how that relates to the notion that the participants in the trial are merely involved in playing a game. Discuss whether you think Meursault should be allowed to defend himself, or whether he's right to take the lawyer's advice and say nothing.

12. The "games" of society, according to Camus, are the social institutions people adhere to blindly, without questioning their true worth. The chaplain's "game" is religion. Write about whether you think his argument with Meursault is sincere, and whether he believes what he says.

The lawyer's "game" is law. He advises Meursault to remain silent during the trial for fear that he might say something to antagonize the jury. He makes no attempt to plead self-defense, on Meursault's behalf, and seems resigned to the fact that Meursault will be found guilty unless he shows some emotion on the death of his mother. Meursault's explanation of his relationship to his mother makes no sense to him.

The magistrate, the final dispenser of justice, is playing two "games": law and religion. He seems to need reassurance from Meursault in order to confirm his own religious beliefs; he acts as if Meursault is letting him down, in a personal way, by refusing to believe in God.

All three men claim they believe, with absolute certainty, in their ideals; yet they seem threatened by Meursault's belief in himself.

13. After the emotional scene with the chaplain, Meursault experiences a wave of calmness and serenity. He falls asleep, then wakes to the siren of a steamer in the distance. He realizes that the outside world no longer concerns him. Discuss how his physical separation from the world (as a prisoner) is similar to the way he felt as a free man, and how his beliefs and sense of honesty tended to isolate him from society. He identifies with his mother and understands why she took on a "fiance" shortly before her death. At this point, Meursault realizes he wants to begin his life anew. He's accepted the fact that life is meaningless and that the universe is benign and indifferent. He has remained true to himself and to his own ideals, and that has allowed him to reach a point of ultimate freedom. He hopes that at his execution, he will be greeted with "howls of execration"- or denunciation. You might discuss this last wish as a desire for recognition on Meursault's part, a sign of repentance, or a last act of defiance by Meursault.

[The Stranger Contents]


TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING

  • MEURSAULT
    1. Discuss Camus's idea of absurdity and how it applies to Meursault.
    2. Compare Meursault, the free man, in Part One to Meursault, the prisoner, in Part Two.
    3. Identify and analyze aspects of Meursault's life that are based on Camus's own experiences.
    4. Describe Meursault's behavior at the funeral, focusing on his impressions of the residents of the nursing home, the warden, and the doorkeeper.
    5. Discuss the religious arguments of the magistrate and the chaplain and Meursault's reactions.
    6. Examine Meursault's idea of happiness.
    7. Discuss why Meursault declines the offer of a job in Paris. Explain the concept of "ambition" as it occurs in the novel.
    8. Analyze Meursault's feelings toward his mother, focusing on what their life was like when they lived together and the reasons he sent her to the nursing home.
    9. At the trial Meursault claimed he killed the Arab "because of the sun." Discuss what he means and why you think he committed the murder.
  • OTHER CHARACTERS
    1. Discuss the role of the character Salamano in the novel. Compare Salamano's relationship to his dog to Raymond's relationship to his girlfriend.
    2. Examine the significance of the robot woman who joins Meursault at the table at Celeste's.
    3. Discuss why Meursault's lawyer remains nameless. Does he do his job adequately?
    4. Analyze Marie's reaction when Meursault tells her his mother has died.
    5. Examine the ways the magistrate, the lawyer, and the chaplain play the "game" of society in The Stranger.
    6. Discuss Raymond Sintes's "code of honor" and how it affects his relationship with Meursault.
  • LITERARY TOPICS
    1. Discuss the images of light and water in The Stranger. What is their significance?
    2. Analyze the relationship between Camus's essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" and The Stranger?
    3. Discuss how the setting affects events in The Stranger. Could the book have been set anywhere, or does Algiers- and Mediterranean culture in general- have a specific influence on the lives of the characters?

[The Stranger Contents]


GLOSSARY

ACOLYTE
Person who assists a priest in the celebration of the Mass.

ASSIZE COURT
Superior court in Europe and England in which sessions are held periodically for the purpose of administering civil and criminal justice.

AU REVOIR
French for good-bye.

BABEL
Confusion of sounds, voices, or languages.

BIER
Platform or portable framework on which a coffin is placed.

BILL OF LADING
Document listing and acknowledging receipt of goods for shipment.

BLACK PUDDING
Sausage made of blood and suet, sometimes with the addition of flour or meal.

CAFE AU LAIT
Coffee served with hot milk; also called "white" coffee.

DE TROP
French phrase meaning "in excess" and, thus, unnecessary.

FACTOTUM
Employee or assistant who serves in a wide range of capacities.

FERNANDEL (1903-1971)
French comic actor and movie star.

FLAT
Apartment or suite of rooms on one floor of a building.

FRANC
Monetary unit of France and its dependencies.

GRILLE
Metal grating used as a screen, divider, or decorative element in a window or gateway.

GUILLOTINE
Instrument for beheading, consisting of a heavy blade dropped between two grooved uprights. Named after Joseph Guillotin, who urged its use during the French Revolution.

HORS D'OEUVRE
Appetizer served before a meal.

MAGISTRATE
Civil officer empowered to enforce the law.

MOOR
Member of a Muslim people of mixed Arab and Berber descent, living in north Africa.

PANAMA
Straw hat.

PANNIKIN
Small pan or metal cup.

PARRICIDE
Person who murders either or both of his or her parents; the act itself.

REFECTORY
Dining hall in an institution, particularly in a monastery or convent.

ROSETTE
Ribboned ornament in the shape of a rose. Worn in the buttonhole by veterans to indicate the possession of medals such as the Legion of Honor.

SPIRIT LAMP
Lamp using alcohol or other liquid fuel.

TO TRENCH
To dig into a subject and cover it thoroughly.

TRESTLE
Frame consisting of a horizontal beam fastened to two pairs of spreading legs, used to form a table.

VENDETTA
Blood feud in which the relatives of a murdered or injured person seek revenge on the murderer or members of his or her family.

REFERENCE
THE STORY, continued


ECC [The Stranger Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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