The Effects of “Weather” on Monsieur Meursault

In Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, Monsieur Meursault either describes or complains about the heat multiple times. What effect does the heat have on Meursault?

The first instance in Chapter 1 is the most detailed description of the weather in the novel. When Meursault was pondering the weather at the location of his mother’s funeral, he noticed that “with the sun bearing down, making the whole landscape shimmer with heat, [the evening] was inhuman and oppressive” (15). It is clear that Meursault is bothered by the heat. Later, an old man begins a conversation with Meursault and they talk about the extreme heat during the funeral. The man asks Meursault if his mother was old, and he ambiguously responds “Fairly” (16). He then ponders “The glare from the sky was unbearable” (16). The heat brought confusion upon Meursault, causing him to forget key details about his mother.

At the end of part 1, Meursault makes comments about the heat a second time before he shoots a man. As Meursault approached the Arab, “the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on [his] back” and “the sun was starting to burn [his] cheeks” (58). Again, the heat was the final topic on Meursault’s mind before he acted illogically.

There are many more cases where Meursault cannot help thinking about the heat. At the beginning of part 2, he can barely focus on his lawyer’s argument because “it was hot” (68). While he is in the courtroom, Meursault begins “feeling dizzy, with all [the] people in [the] stuffy room” and comments on the temperature becoming hotter twice (83, 86, 87, 101).

I would argue that Meursault was negatively affected by the heat, and made many mistakes because he hated hot temperatures.