Colonial Memory


Meursault Chapter 1

  • Points out from the outset how the 'second guy' was seemingly created just to take a bullet
  • The narrator is sitting in a bar, his brother was one of the dead men
  • The narrator has learnt to speak french just to tell people his story
  • The narrator compliments Camus 'Have you seen the way he writes'
  • He goes into detail about how his brother only lived for 2 hours, but has died for 70 years
  • His brother's name is Musa
  • Nobody (even after independence) tried to find out his name or where he came from: Everybody was too busy focusing on the brilliance of Camus' book to notice
  • The narrator critics the book a bit (how Meursault only focuses on suffering)
  • Meursault killed Musa because of sunstroke/not being able to see
  • The narrator is angry that Meursault got off scott free
  • He knew a man who's father was illiterate in French, and couldn't read a telegram (for weeks) about how his wife died
  • The narrator and Musa did not have a 'slutty sister' like the stranger says
  • Their father had disappeared ages before any events in the book (1930s)
  • The narrator was scared that Musa would leave him too, but he didn't
  • Refers to Musa as a god
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Meursault Chapter 1

  • Narrator angry that Musa's death was insignificant
  • Musa will remain 'the Arab' forever
  • Since he had no name, his death was less important
  • It was also impossible to prove he even existed-or was killed-therefore his mother never got widowers' pension
  • They couldn't even find his body...
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Meursault Chapter 2

  • The narrators mother used to tell him stories about Musa
  • Her stories of his last day would change
  • The important thing was the closeness the narrator felt with his mother at this time
  • Nobody questioned Musa's family on his death
  • Musa died protecting a young girl's (his girlfriend's, perhaps) honour
  • The narrator was greated with a sense of received honour after the murder
  • He calls everyone Musa instead of Mohammed
  • Kids showed him respect as 'the hero's brother'
  • Says the bar reminds him of the old people's home where Meursault puts his mother: Silence, discreet aging, end-of-life rituals
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Meursault Chapter 3

  • Mama's in her house, huddled up (like an institute)
  • The family went to stay with the narrator's uncle
  • Then they lived on a colonial farm
  • They moved into a shack next to a pied-noir family
  • They took the house during the independence period (liberated it)
  • Narrator specualtes where the mother's body and the nursing home could be
  • 'A too-perfect alibi, not a memory' Meursault's description of the funeral
  • He thinks Meursault didn't even attend the funeral, which itself was non-existent
  • Musa died in 1942
  • Mama neglected the narrator, so he felt like the dead borhter
  • Mama lied in order to account for the absurdity surrounding Musa's death
  • 'I was her object, not her son'
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Meursault Chapter 4

  • Mama made the narrator wear Musa's clothes and he had to aboid the ocean
  • The narrator sometimes doubts the credibility of the whole story
  • Mama found Meursault's childhood house, and insulted one of his relatives
  • But the narrator found out that he had no address, so it was probabaly a randomer
  • 'It's your hero who does the killing, it's me who feels guitly, and I'm the one condemnded to wandering'-the narrator wished Musa never existed so he could have lived a normal life
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Meursault Chapter 5

  • 'You can't easily kill a man when he's given a name'
  • 'All the rest is nothing but embellishements, the products of your writer's genuis'
  • The beach that Musa was killed on is underwhelming in the eyes of the narrator
  • 'Don't do any geographical searching-that's the point I'm trying to make'
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Meursault Chapter 6

  • 'Arab-ness is like *****-ness, which only exists in the white man's eyes
  • The narrator wonders how Musa ended up on the beach

Chapter 7:

  • 'Who wants to run panting after a father who has never set foot on earth, has never had to know hunger or work for a living?'
  • The narrator distrusts women (because of his mother)
  • He met Meriem in the summer of 1963
  • He goes into detail on the lack of an afterlife and the important of enjoying life

Chapter 8:

  • The narrator shot a man during the first days of independence
  • He felt free as a result of this murder, like he'd fulfilled his expectations
  • The narrator qas questioned as to why he didn't join the resistance
  • Mama made him kill the man for vengeance, so that they would both be freed from Musa
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Meursault Chapter 9

  • The narrator believes he has interpreted all of the roles of l'etranger in turn
  • 'It's essentially a private performance, with me as the sole protagonist'
  • Meriam helped the narrator perfect his language skills
  • 'I killed a man, and since then, life is no longer sacred in my eyes'
  • 'If you kill a single person, it is as if you have killed the whole of mankind.'
  • 'As a general rule, one sleeps better after a confession'

Chapter 10:

  • Mama was singing the day after the murder
  • 'You never forget the first day in the world'
  • Joseph had vanished like Musa, and so the narrator would never be convicted
  • The narrator and Mama were the only people in their lives
  • 'For once, there was no corpse on my back'-in the prison cell (had commited murder)
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Meursault Chapter 11

  • No one was interested in Harun's case, they only wondered why he didn't join his brothers
  • Harun wanted to be sentenced, like Meursault
  • 'I found their casual attitude towrds my crime almost insulting'
  • 'My revenge had just been struck down to the same level of insignificance!'
  • 'He died because he loved the sea, and was always too lively when he came back from it, according to Mama'

Chapter 12:

  • 'What is it that makes them forget they were born alone and will die separate?'-Lovers
  • 'It was Musa, Mama and your hero, those are my three murderers'


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Meursault Chapter 13

  • 'The word "Arab" appears twenty-five times, but not a single name'
  • He made up what the newspaper clippings said becuase he couldn't speak French yet
  • Meriam came to them in March 1963


  • 'The strangest thing, however, was to hear Musa's name spoken by a person other than my mother'
  • Harun felt like Musa died again when Meriem entered his life
  • 'I was in love with ehr from the first second, and I hated her instantly too, for having come into my world like that, tracking a dead man, upsetting my equilibrium.'
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Meursault Chapter 14

  • 'But I was distracted, unsettled by that woman's presence'
  • 'God, it was painful to find out we were idiots'-when they discovered everything was written
  • Meriem introduced the book to Harun
  • 'It was like reading a book written by God himself'
  • 'I was looking for traces of my borhter in the book, and what I found there instead was my own reflection, I discovered I was practically the murderer's double'
  • 'A mirrior held up to my soul'
  • Harun broke all the dishes in the house and insulted Mama once Meriem had left

Chapter 15:

  • Nothing happened after Meriem left
  • 'He's referred to as the Arab, even by Arabs. Tell me, is tha ta nationalist, "Arab"?'
  • Harun hates Algiers
  • 'He wasn't even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man'
  • 'And for sure, there weill be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and they will greet me with cries of hate.'
  • Meusault in Arabic is Elmerssoul 'The messenger'-comparisons with the bible's reliability
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La montagne part 1

  • The narrators friends all went up to the mountain but died, whereas he stayed behind
  • Army members come into town and say that the kids have been slaugtered by geurilla fighters
  • The narrator sees his friends as ghosts asking him why he didn't come witht hem (he feels immense guilt)
  • The narrator got attacked by Arabs after he went to the cinema
  • People expect the narrator and his family to leave the country/be exiled but the narrator considers Algeria his own country just as much as 'the Arabs'
  • There's a certain degree of imagined hostility because the narrator was the only survivor
  • The narrator shared the same religious opinion as Harun 'Mais il me paraissait inutile' talking about le prêtre
  • A vehicle was blown up by a mine 
  • The narrator describes the country as abandoned during the last days of the war
  • He goes into a lot of detail describing the mountain (as if it invades every aspect of his life)
  • The narrator saw a car drive past with the man who took his friends, but he didn't do anything as there was no court or judge
  • The narrator gets into a car with his neighbours (for protection) and leaves Algeria, but he could see the mountain for miles and miles 'la montagne était là'
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La montagne part 2

  • The narrator sees le Canigou, another mountain (he can never escape 'the mountain'
  • He had a friend called André that asked him to read his essays on the playground
  • But the narrator still missed his dead friends from the mountain (they haunt him)
  • Papa stayed behind in Algeria, because he could not leave his country
  • Buty eventually he was forced to leave Algeria
  • He had to justify his French nationality even though he fought for France during the war
  • The narraot feels remorse for the people he's left behind
  • Even in old age, he is still haunted by the dead children
  • The narrator realises they told him to stay behind in order to cover for them, and that he was forgiven a long time ago, and so he's relieved of his guilt
  • Final quote 'il y en avait tellement dans la motnagne en été' (scarabées)
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R&H Key quotes

  • 'On préfère rejeter hors de la culture, dans la nature, tout ce qui ne se conforme pas à la norme sous laquelle on vit
  • 'celles qui sont ses contemporained, mais se trouvent situées en un autre lieu du globe; celles qui se sont manigestées approximetiveent dans le même espace, mais l'ont précédée dans le tmps' celles, enfin, qui ont existé à la foid dans un temps antérieur au sien et dans un espace différent de celui où elle se place'
  • 'Chaque culture soit  incapable de porter un jugement vrai sur une autre pusqu'une culture ne peut s'évader d'elle-même et que son appréciation reste, par conséquent, prisonnière d'un relativisme sans appel'
  • Elle est (la civilisation occidentale'), directement ou indirectement, intervenue dans la vie des populations de couleur'
  • The different stages of development of cultures are only relative to one another
  • 'Aucune culture n'est seule'
  • 'Le problème n'est d'ailleurs pas même de savoir si une société peut ou non tirer profit du style de vie de ses voisines, mais si, et dans quelle mesure, et peur arriver à les comprendre, et même à les connaître
  • 'La civilisation mondiale ne saurait être autre chose que la coalition'
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R&H Key quotes Cont.

  • 'Le devoir sacré de l'humanité est d'en conserver les deux termes également présents à l'esprit, de ne jamais perdre de vue l'un au profit exclusif de l'autre'
  • 'L'humanité est constamment aux prises avec deux processus contradictoires dont l'un tend à instaurer l'unification, tandis que l'autre vise à maintenir ou à retablir le diversification'
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La Voie Royale-Première Partie I

  • Perken and Claude are on a ship, looking at a naked black woman (eroticism)
  • 'There's a great deal to be learned in a Somali brothel, as you'll discover' (Perken to Claude)
  • Perken picked the girl who looked like she didn't enjoy the dancing
  • Claude is obsessed with he jungle and the lost temples
  • Perken is going to Asia to search for someone who disappeared in the unpacified area
  • He's in it for the money (but doesn't need money)
  • Claude decides he needs Perken for his mission (he's at the bar)


  • Perken is envious of Claude's age
  • Claude convinces him to go on the treasure hunt withim
  • As Perken is getting older he fears death (common theme)
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La Voie Royale-Première Partie III

  • 'No civilisation is ever understod  by another one' (Claude)
  • The director of the French institute insists that the stones must remain in situ 


  • 'And, on the nearing shore, loomed darkly hostile, like a clenched fist, the jungle.'
  • Claude is told that Perken was looking for submachines guns
  • He is given a guide named Xa, who is distrusted by others but Claude decides to treat him generously
  • Perken resents the fact he's settled in his life 'You can't imagine what it means: that feeling of being penned in by destiny'
  • He wanted machines guns for the natives in Laos and Siam (to make his mark on Asia)
  • This is all because of the railroad being constructed in the colony, which would wipe out the unpacified tribes
  • 'Grabot's anoter one who's had some queer dealing with eroticism'
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La Voie Royale-Deuxième Partie I

  • The jungle is a very dangerous place, gangrene, vermin, insects, stones, etc.
  • The temple they were exploring was unfinished


  • Claude spotted a fire, and could smell burnt flesh
  • The naked tribesmen is compared to a live crab/lobster/snake
  • The two epxlorers end up finding statues of two dancing girls
  • 'And the natives would, no doubt, be clumsier still' when trying to chip a statue's face off
  • For the excavation they took their time;obviously they deared the block might crush their hands.'
  • So now they possessed the dancing-girls' heads and gett; only the bodies remained on the middle stone'
  • 'Intent on their little oxen, the cartmen stared at the stones lashed round with ropes, with blank indifference.'
  • 'As usual, he noticed, the cartment looked half asleep'
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La Voie Royale-Deuxième Partie III

  • 'A smart chap, that boy of mine' when talking about Xa (acts like he owns him)
  • The cartmen abandoned the two men, as well as the guide and Svey
  • Perken goes to a nearby village to attempt to get a guide
  • They decide to go to the Stieng village as they can't find go back the way they came
  • 'What brought Grabot to these parts? Claude asked. Eroticism, principally-though the women here are a damned sight uglier than those in Loas'
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La Voie Royale-Troisième Partie I

  • 'Here were real savages: one smelled their meaty smell' talking about the tribes
  • The Moi guide did not warn Perken and Claude of the poison tipped stakes in the ground
  • 'Claude felt that the man was neither wholly human nor altogether bestial' the guide
  • Grabot is trying to attone for his eroticism with courage


  • They found Grabot, who was enslaved and blinded in a hut


  • 'Nothing could distract the savages from their set purpose'
  • Perken sustained an injury from stepping on a war spike


  • 'The elders were squatting round the chief, dangling their long, ape-like arms'
  • The men strike a deal with the Mois, one jar of alcohol per warrior, and ten for the village
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La Voie Royale-Troisième Partie V

  • 'Iodine on a deep wound like that! Aboutas much use as saying a prayer over it!'
  • 'The Siamese doctor removed the drewssing and, quatting in native fashion beside the bed, proceeded to examine the wound.'
  • Perken (and later Claude) asked Xa to find some 'fine women' for the night
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La Voie Royale-Quatrième Partie I

  • The men go to Savan's village as the Siamese government's troops are advancing through the jungle


  • 'He (Claude) watched Perken's face, and not the native's, as if the silence of a European must be, of the two, th emore understandable.'


  • Savan, Perken and Claude negotiate/argue


  • Reference to different mens reactions to dying (religious viewpoint-pray/forsake)
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