A Dog is not a Man’s Best Friend

Throughout Part 1 of The Stranger, Meursault describes how his neighbor, Salamano, treats his dog. Salamano’s dog is old and mistreated, and we see this as he repeatedly curses at his dog, screaming “Flithy, stinking bastard!”(27). On top of that, Salamano also beats his dog for the same reasons, as Meursault notes he “beats the dog and swears at it”(27). It is apparent to the reader Salamano treats his dog inhumanely, simply because the dog is old, revealing Salamano’s unreasonable and controlling tendencies.

Similar behavior can be seen through Raymond, another one of Meursault’s neighbors. When talking with Meursault, Raymond says his girlfriend had an allowance of twenty Francs a day, which is not too much money in this time period. However, Raymond found a lottery ticket in her purse, which she apparently pawned bracelets for, and Raymond assumed she was cheating for having bracelets he didn’t give her. As a result of this, Raymond beat his girlfriend more than once, getting the police involved the second time, for no apparent reason. Raymond even says “I’d smack her around a little, but nice-like, you might say. … But this time it’s for real. And if you ask me, she still hasn’t got what she has coming”(31). The reason seems to be because she is a woman and he is exerting power over her, and Raymond’s sexist and controlling tendencies are revealed.

Both Raymond and Salamano are similar as they punish the people and animals closest to them, as Salamano punishes his dog and Raymond his girlfriend, for seemingly no reason. On top of that, they both lost these people and animals at the same time, as Salamano’s dog went missing and Raymond’s girlfriend ran away from him. This builds a connection between the two characters and their lives, as they both exert their physical dominance on those weaker than them. This foreshadows these characters will live similar lives in their respective situations.

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