During the first few chapters of the novel, I felt like Meursault was constantly drinking coffee. Looking back at part one, I realize it’s only mentioned on three or four different occasions, but it definitely stood out to me. In addition to coffee, he talks about smoking, eating, and washing his hands more often than I feel like most narrators do. All of these things are part of many people’s daily routines.
Routines are very important in The Stranger. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Meursault talks about coffee a few different times in the first three chapters, but it is not a coincidence that the concept of routine keeps popping up.
Routine is mentioned for the first time on the first page of the novel: “I ate at the restaurant, at Celeste’s, as usual,” (3). When Meursault is at the old people’s home for the vigil the caretaker says “As is usually the case, the funeral is set for ten o’clock in the morning” (6). The vigil and funeral are obviously routine for the nurse and caretaker; Meursault even says the funeral seemed to happen “so deliberately” (17), which also made me think of routine. Meursault describes a Sunday morning, finishing by saying “It was Sunday all right” (22). The old man and his dog have a routine of abuse, as do Raymond and his girlfriend. The “strange little woman” described has an odd and specific routine that she’s done so many times she seems “robotlike” (43).
I don’t really know yet what the importance of routine is to the story. Meursault’s entire life seems like a routine. I think that in part two of the novel we’ll learn what Albert Camus is trying to say about routine. I’ll definitely pay attention to coffee and other symbols of routine while reading the rest of the story.