Meursault, a small French official, resident of the Algerian suburb, receives news of the death of his mother. Three years ago, being unable to support her on his modest salary, he placed her in an almshouse. After receiving a two-week vacation, Merso on the same day goes to the funeral.
After a brief conversation with the director of the almshouse, Merco is going to spend the night at the grave of his mother. However, he refuses to look at the deceased for the last time, talks with the watchman for a long time, quietly drinks coffee with milk and smokes, and then falls asleep. When he wakes up, he sees his mother’s friends from the almshouse next door, and it seems to him that they came to judge him. The next morning, under the scorching sun, Merso indifferently bury her mother
After sleeping for at least twelve hours, Merco decides to go to the sea to swim and accidentally meets the former typist from his office, Marie Cardona. The same evening she becomes his mistress. After skimming the next day at the window of his room overlooking the main street of the suburbs, Merso thinks that in his life, in essence, nothing has changed.
The next day, returning home after work, Merso meets his neighbors: the old man Salamano, as always, with his dog, and Raymond Sintes, the storekeeper, who is known as a pimp. Sintes wants to teach his mistresses, the Arab, who changed him, and asks Meurso to compose a letter for her, in order to entice her, and then to beat her. Soon, Merso witnessed a stormy quarrel with Raymond’s mistress, in which the police intervened, and agrees to appear as a witness in his favor.
The patron offers Merco a new appointment to Paris, but he refuses: life still will not change. That same evening, Marie asks Meursault if he is going to marry her. Like promotion, Merco does not care.
Sunday Merco is going to spend on the seashore with Marie and Raymond visiting his friend Masson. Approaching the bus stop, Raymond and Maersot notice two Arabs, one of whom is the brother of Raymond’s mistress. This meeting alarms them.
After a while, Merso and his friends again come to the beach and behind the high rock see the same Arabs. Raymond gives Merco a revolver, but there is no apparent reason for a quarrel. The world seemed to close and bound them. Friends leave Merso alone. He suffers the scorching heat, he is drunk with stupidity. At the creek behind the rock, he again notices the Arab, who wounded Raymond. Unable to endure the unbearable heat, Merco takes a step forward, takes out a revolver and shoots an Arab, “as if knocking on the door of misfortune with four short blows.”
Merso was arrested, he was summoned several times for interrogation. He considers his case to be very simple, but the investigator and the lawyer hold a different opinion. The investigator, who seemed to be a smart and handsome man, can not understand the motives of his crime. “He talks to him about God, but Merco confesses his disbelief, but his own crime only causes him vexation.
The investigation continues for eleven months. Merso realizes that the prison cell has become his home and his life has stopped. At first, he is still mentally still in the wild, but after a meeting with Marie, a change takes place in his soul. Tired of boredom, he remembers the past and realizes that a man who has lived at least one day can spend at least a hundred years in prison – he has enough memories. Gradually, Merso lost the concept of time.
The case of Merso is assigned to a hearing at the last jury trial. In a stuffy hall, a lot of people are crowded, but Merco is not able to distinguish a single person. He has a strange impression that he is superfluous, like an uninvited guest. After a long interrogation of the witnesses: the director and guard of the almshouse, Raymond, Masson, Salamano and Marie, the prosecutor pronounces an angry conclusion: Merso, never crying at the funeral of his mother, not wishing to look at the deceased, the next day becomes in touch with the woman and, being a friend of a professional pimp, commits murder on insignificant occasion, taking scores with his victim. According to the prosecutor, Merco does not have a soul, he lacks human feelings, no principles of morality are known. In horror of the insensitivity of the criminal, the prosecutor demands for him the death penalty.
In his defense speech, lawyer Merso, on the contrary, calls him an honest worker and an exemplary son who kept his mother as long as possible, and killed himself in a moment’s blindness. Merseau expects a grave punishment – inescapable remorse and reproaches of conscience.
After the break, the president of the court reads the verdict: “on behalf of the French people,” Merso will be severed his head publicly, on the square. Merso begins to speculate about whether he will be able to avoid the mechanical course of events. He can not agree with the inevitability of what is happening. Soon, however, he resigns himself to the idea of death, because life is not worth it to cling to, and since it is necessary to die, it does not matter when and how it will happen.
Before the execution, a priest comes to the chamber of Merseau. But in vain he tries to convert him to God. For Meursault, eternal life has no meaning, he does not want to spend the rest of his time on God, so he pours out all the accumulated indignation on the priest.
On the verge of death, he feels how from the abyss of the future the breath of darkness rises to him, that he has been chosen by a single destiny. He is ready to relive everything and opens his soul to the tender indifference of the world.