Sample Questions

1) Discuss the significance of the images of light and water in The Outsider.


Consider the following:

  1. Its religious connotations: baptism and purification.
  2. Swimming: associated with Marie and pleasure.
  3. The paper roller at his office: far more detail is given to this than the nature of Meursault’s work.
  4. As relief from the sun, it is this potent natural force that influences his firing of the gun.
  5. Water is essential for life.


Consider the following:

  1. Its association with freedom and energy.
  2. Light as a symbol for violence and destruction (c.f. the sun).
  3. The sun as source of light absolves man from responsibility. Man is thus absolved from guilt but reduced to something less than man: to the status of an irresponsible element in nature.
  4. The permanency of the elements versus transient nature of man.

2) Discuss the ways in which Camus challenges convention and the nature of humanity in his exploration of the "absurd".


  1. Meursault as a character: his general indifference.
  2. His refusal to adhere to convention: he will not lie to Marie or judge about his feelings.
  3. His unusually honest and direct way of communicating these thoughts.
  4. The way he debunks social and moral codes.
  5. The scathing attack on justice: court-room scene and one man’s arrogance in pronouncing judgment on others.
  6. Challenge to religion – Meursault refuses to listen to the priest and is unswervingly atheistic to the very end.
  7. To what extent do we think Meursault is guilty?
  8. Does he change as a person throughout the novel?
  9. Is there a shift in his character in Part 2?
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