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Free Study Guide-The Stranger by Albert Camus-Free Online Chapter Summary
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Chapter 4


This chapter deals with the relationship between Mersault and Marie and the consequences of Raymondís sending the letter to his girl friend. Marie and Mersault spend their next Saturday morning on the beach outside Algiers. Marie asks Mersault whether he loves her. Mersault answers that such questions do not mean anything to him. He believes that love is too abstract and vague an emotion to think about. When they leave the beach, they return to Mersaultís apartment to make love. They soon hear a female screaming in Raymondís apartment. Mersault realizes that Raymond is beating his girlfriend, as he promised to do. Marie wants to go out and see what is happening. When she sees the Arab woman being repeatedly hit, she feels that they should call the police. Mersault, in characteristic fashion, is unconcerned about the girlís welfare. He refuses to summon the police, for he does not like policemen and does not want to get involved, even though he is responsible for writing the letter that led to the fight.

A short while later, a policeman arrives and begins to interrogate Raymond. He accuses Raymond of being drunk and warns him to stay indoors until he is summoned to the police station. After things are quiet again, Mersault and Marie sit down to have their lunch. Marie has lost her appetite and cannot eat a bite; however, Mersault, seemingly unbothered by the earlier fight, easily finishes his food. After Marie leaves, Mersault talks to Raymond, who is concerned about Mersault's personal feelings towards him. In a typically non-committal way, Mersault tries to reassure Raymond that he is unconcerned about the fight. Mersault even agrees to be a witness in Raymondís defense, testifying that the girlfriend provoked Raymond.

Salamano approaches Mersault to say that he has lost his dog and questions Mersault about where the dog could possibly be. Mersault tries to pacify the old man by saying the dog will surely be found. Later, however, Mersault hears Salamano weeping in his apartment. The crying makes Mersault think about his own dead mother. Then realizing that he is tired from the events of the day, Mersault goes directly to bed without eating dinner.


Much important information is presented in this chapter. Marie is obviously very attached to Mersault, but he seems to have few feelings for her. When she wants to know if he loves her, the non-committal Mersault responds that he does not think about love, for it is too vague of an emotion. His response is not surprising, for he seems unwilling to commit himself to anything. When Raymondís Arab girlfriend is being beaten, Mersault refuses to call the police, for he says he does not want to get involved and does not like policemen.

Because it is out of character for him, it is surprising that Mersault agrees to be a witness for Raymond and testify that the girlfriend provoked him to his actions. Without realizing it, Mersault is slowly being drawn into Raymondís drama, which will later prove to be catastrophic in his life. It is also surprising that Mersault thinks about his dead mother when he hears Salamano weeping over his lost dog. When he goes to bed without eating dinner, the reader senses that Mersault has some emotions.

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