The role of the “strange little woman” in the novel The Stranger by Albert Camus plays relates to a larger theme at play in the text. This woman intrigues Meursault as he is having dinner at Celeste’s and she asks him if she can join him at his table. This little robot-like woman provides a bold contrast to Meursault’s own character, and it is very prevalent to the reader. “While she was waiting for her first course, she opened her bag, took out a slip of paper and a pencil, added up the bill in advance, then took the exact amount, plus tip, out of a vest pocket and set it down on the table in front of her”(43).
Every little moment of her life was carefully planned out, contrasting Meursault’s character as he spends his days smoking and looking out the window. This “strange little woman” helps the reader really see the contrasting characters to get to know Meursault a little better. Meursault does not have every moment planned out like the robotic woman does, for he likes to let life just happen. In some ways, we can see that Meursault himself can be stigmatized as a robot.
He lives day-by-day going through the motions of life and daily routine. He asks little about anything and does not desire the reasoning behind many occurrences that happen in his life. “I didn’t have anything to do, so I left too and followed her for a while” (43). Meursault decides to follow the women because he is very curious of her actions and is intrigued by her robotic like movements. He does not seem to understand what propels her to move forward so fast-paced and live her life with such structure.
In one way, the woman can be seen as a robot following routine for an ultimate purpose, and on the other hand, Meursualt can be seen as a robot following routine just to pass the day by without an ultimate goal or purpose. Camus introduces this woman in the novel to show that not everyone is the same, but all come in different forms. Oftentimes individuals that are perceived the same have the same qualities but different characteristics. For example, the woman and Meursault can both by perceived as robots, living everyday in a routine fashion, however their robotic characteristic are contrasting.
After following the woman for a short period of time, Meursault looses interest and forgets about her. “I thought about how peculiar she was but forgot about her a few minutes later”(44). This is an example of how Meursault lives his life without a care and is detached from society and the world around him. The moment we see that he is finally fascinated with something, he quickly goes back to his old characteristics of not caring. This is how he is able to forget about the “strange little woman” so quickly and goes on with his day like nothing had happened.