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AP English The Stranger
Novak (Practice AP samples)

THE THESIS PARAGRAPH:

• Society is like its own little exclusive club. If an individual fits the criteria, then that person is in; otherwise, an “unwanted” sign is put up, and the outcast is pushed aside. Through books and novels, alienation has revealed the true values of society by using a character’s status as an outcast to prove how un-adaptable cultures are. In Albert Camus’s The Stranger, Meursault’s creed is why is he shunned and not accepted by society. (What is that creed? What does society value?) • The common values of a society do not necessarily dictate how all its citizens will act. In The Stranger, Camus creates a society in Northern Africa where people live according to both their material and emotional needs. Meursault, however, illustrates a point of view that seems devoid of emotional need. Thus, he does not live in accord with the virtues of the same society that gives him his life and possessions. His decision to kill a man—a choice devoid of sufficient reason—is the pivotal point between his acceptance within his society and the malice he faces for violating the human right to life. Ultimately, Camus shows how the popular resentment of this murder is based on society’s ideals of justice, love, and a life of purpose—all virtues that Meursault does not have. (Very nice but mention Camus’s first name and introduce Meursault as a character.)

THE THESIS STATEMENT:

• Albert Camus portrays his existential themes of the irrationality of the universe and the meaninglessness of human existence in The Stranger through society’s [insert adjective—hypocritical?] reactions to Meursault’s actions and apparent lack of all human emotion. (nice) • Camus uses acts of violence—the senseless murder on the beach and the unprovoked attack on the chaplain—to highlight a nihilistic philosophy: the meaninglessness of life. (nice) • Meursault demonstrates his emotionless stance in the way he views life and the way he treats Marie. (Illustrating what overall?) • In The Sranger by Albert Camus, Meursault is brought to court for murder but sentenced for alienating society. (On what grounds? Illustrating what?)

THE TOPIC SENTENCE:

• Camus opens the novel with “Maman died today.” (Nice quote but what’s the point?) • Echoing the title of the book, Meursault lives his life as a stranger, watching the world from his bedroom window, as Camus illustrates Meursault’s physical and emotional detachment from the world. (excellent) • Even before Meursault made his fatal error of killing the Arab, there was a subtle shunning of him by the people surrounding him. (Pretty good but why?) • Meursault’s lack of emotion is his own downfall in a society that requires certain emotional responses in certain circumstances. (good)

MECHANICAL ISSUES:

• Passive voice (PV): Remorse and regret are viewed as integral parts of human life in Meursault’s culture, and anyone who cannot feel is deemed a “monster” or soulless. (Good, solid CM but rewrite the PV using active voice: Meursault’s culture views remorse and regret as integral parts of human life, labeling anyone who cannot feel a “monster” or soulless.) • Misplaced modifiers (MM): Broadly stereotyped as more machine than man, the trial’s prosecutor cries that “the day of his mother’s funeral, this man was out swimming, starting up a dubious liaison, and going to the movies, a comedy, for laughs.” (Meursault—not the trial’s prosecutor—is “stereotyped as more machine than man.”) • Split infinitive: Through the death of his mother, the interrogation of his faith, and the trial of his own life, Meursault withholds his emotions, prompting society to not only question, but to fear and dismiss, the unfamiliar ways of thought. (Excellent thesis statement marred only by the split infinitive, which should read “not only to question.”) • Usage: Society outcasts Meursault because . . . (Outcast is a noun—not a verb.) • Usage: Distinguish between societies (plural) and society’s (possessive). • Unparallel pronoun references: When one reveals a difference about themselves, society cannot help but jump into judgment. (When individuals reveal . . .)

GENERAL TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

• Answer all parts of the prompt. Do not leave your reader to infer what society values. • Spell character names and novel concepts correctly: Meursault (not “Moncault,” “Marsault,” “Mersault,” or “Meursalt”); existentialism (not “exetential” or “extensialism”); Albert Camus (not “Alfred” or “Robert”). • Embed quotations: As Monsieur Meursault comes to accept the imminence of his death, he “opens himself to the gentle indifference of the world.” • Stay in present tense: Meursault’s culture believes that . . .

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