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A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
_____ 1. Thomas Perez serves as a foil to Meursault by
B. grieving for Meursault's mother
C. getting lost on the way to the funeral
B. having written a nasty letter to Raymond's girlfriend
C. saying he doesn't love Marie
B. a dangerous killer who is a threat to society
C. an insane man who should be locked up
B. makes Marie happy, because she's sure if he stays he'll marry her
C. illustrates Meursault's different values
B. thinks about suicide
C. thinks Raymond is going to use it
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
B. Raymond won't be his friend if he refuses
C. it doesn't much matter what he does and saying yes is easy
B. because of the sun
C. in self-defense
B. nature of Arab-French relations
C. irrationality of human nature
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.
_____ 1. Meursault's lawyer advises him
B. not to speak out in his own defense at the trial
C. to admit that he killed the Arab
B. bad dream
C. football stadium
B. of the existence of God
C. to plead self-defense
B. see whether there are any charges against him
C. testify in Raymond's defense
B. no different from Algiers
C. a dingy sort of town
B. it will save him from having to prepare his own dinner
C. he wants to meet Raymond's girlfriend
B. the manner in which he dresses
C. his inability to conform to other people's expectations
B. marry Marie
C. atone for his sin
B. thinks about his life
C. helps to prepare his own defense
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?
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.
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.
TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING
© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.