In chapter II of Part II of Camus's novel The Stranger, Meursault narrates a story that he read in an old newspaper cutting that he found under his mattress in prison. Below is a summary.

A man from a Czech village makes a fortune abroad and returns to his village twenty-five years later. He leaves his wife and daughter in a hotel and then checks into the hotel run by his mother and sister (to surprise them), who don't recognise him. During the night, they kill him for his money. The next morning, the man's wife and daughter arrive at the hotel and unintentionally reveal who the man was. The victim's mother and sister kill themselves.

As far as I can remember, Meursault never refers to this story again in the remainder of the novel. What is its relevance here or to the novel as a whole?

  • Camus also published this story as a standalone play in 1943. Apparently it was based on a real story he heard while on holiday in Czechoslovakia in 1936. – Rand al'Thor May 12 at 20:53

The story reminds me of Oedipus, who unintentionally kills his actual father and marries his mother, and on finding out the truth, exiles himself.

Most likely, Camus himself was interested in this ancient story as we know he studied classics, and he also wrote an essay, the Myth of Sisyphus. But this does not mean that this story is of any direct relevance to l'Etranger, after all, it's mentioned only in a newspaper cutting, and then in passing.

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    The reference to Oedipus sounds interesting but I'm not convinced that the story has no direct relevance to the rest of the novel. – Tsundoku May 6 at 14:20
  • @Tsundoku: What do you suppose is its 'direct relevance' and what direct evidence do you have for supposing so? – Mozibur Ullah May 6 at 14:46
  • @tsundoku:as you point out yourself it's not mentioned again in any way in the rest of the novel... – Mozibur Ullah May 6 at 14:48
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    If I knew that, I could answer my own question :-) – Tsundoku May 6 at 14:48
  • @Tsundoku: well you seemed to be convinced of its relevance even when pointing out its own irrelevance. – Mozibur Ullah May 6 at 14:49

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