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Free Study Guide-The Stranger by Albert Camus-Free Online Chapter Summary
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PART I

Chapter 5

Summary

On Monday, Mersault feels glad that his Sunday was less monotonous that normal. He does not look forward to another week of boredom at work, where he will perform his routine tasks without interest. Despite the monotony on his work as a shipping clerk, Mersault is a good employee. He is annoyed that Raymond telephones him at work, for he does not think personal phone calls during business hours are appropriate. Raymond informs Mersault that he is concerned about his girlfriendís brother following him. He also invites Mersault and Marie to spend Sunday with him at his friend's house, just outside Algiers. Mersault eagerly accepts the invitation for he likes the beach and swimming. They are one of the few things that give him pleasure in life.

Mersaultís boss summons him to his office. Mersault is sure that he is going to be criticized for the personal phone call from Raymond about which he feels guilty. Mersault is, therefore, surprised when he is offered a promotion, which will mean a move to Paris. When Mersault says he has no desire to go to Paris, largely because the sun rarely shines, his boss seems angry and accuses Mersault of lacking ambition. Mersault reflects on the fact that he once had ambition, until he was forced to leave his studies behind. Since then, he has been indifferent about his life.

After work, Mersault meets Marie. When she brings up the subject of their getting married, Mersault expresses complete indifference. He states that he does not believe that marriage is a serious issue; therefore, if she insists on getting married, he probably will not object to it. Mersault then tells Marie about his employer offering him a position in Paris. Marie thinks it would be divine to be married and live in Paris. In contrast, Mersault cares about neither.

After Marie departs, Mersault goes to Celesteís Restaurant to have dinner. A woman comes and sits at his table. As soon as she orders her food, she puts the money for it on the table, including the tip. She then eats her food with gusto. Mersault thinks of her as a "little robot." Since they both finish dinner at about the same time, Mersault follows her for awhile, but he soon loses sight of her and heads home. The next time he sees the woman, she is an observer at his trial.

As Mersault is just about to enter his apartment, Salamano calls him. When Mersault enters Salamanoís apartment, the old man tells him that he has been to the pound to look for his dog, but with no luck. Mersault then listens as Salamano talks about his dog and his past life. The old man reveals that he had worked for the railroad and had married late.


After his wife died eight years ago, he took the spaniel, a gift from a friend, as his companion. Salamano states that the dog was beautiful before it developed the skin disease. The old man then mentions that Mersault's mother liked the dog. He also tells Mersault that people criticized him behind his back for sending his mother to the Home for the Aged and for not being more upset over her death. The news surprises for Mersault, for he feels that sending his mother to the home was an absolutely normal thing. He tells Mersault that he felt his mother was better off in the home since he was at work all day. He believed she would have better care and could make friends at the old folk's home. Salamano assures Mersault that he understands his decision and has his sympathy. Mersault shakes the old manís hand and departs.

Notes

In this chapter, Mersaultís character is further developed as "a stranger," for his decisions and responses are not typical. Although he has stated that he does not want to get involved with Raymond, he accepts an invitation to spend the day with him at his friendís house. He also shows no excitement over being offered a promotion and tells his boss that he does not want to move to Paris. When Marie asks him about getting married, Mersault responds that he does not think that marriage is an important issue and that he probably would not object to it if Marie insists, even though he does not love her. At dinner, he thinks of the woman at his table as a robot, but when she leaves, he follows her, for no apparent reason. When Salamano tells him that the neighbors have criticized Mersault for sending his mother to the Home for the Aged, Mersault is totally surprised, for he feels that it was a normal decision, unworthy of comment.

Salamano is also furthered developed in the chapter. He reveals that he worked for the railroad and married late in life. When his wife died, he was given his dog as a gift, and it became his substitute companion. It is strange, therefore, that he has been seen treating the dog very badly; but he obviously cares about it, for he has been to the pound looking for the lost spaniel. It is also significant that it Salamano who tells Mersault that he is looked down in the neighborhood for sending away his mother and seeming to care little about her death. He does, however, assure Mersault that he understands his feelings. Salamano seems to be reaching out for a relationship with the distant Mersault.

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