Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: French and Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Sara Kippur


In this paper, I discuss the problem of naming and namelessness in Albert Camus’ The Stranger and in Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation as a way to explore postcolonial discourse surrounding names as a form of othering. In The Stranger, Camus chooses not to name the Arab that falls victim to Meursault, thereby setting into motion the narrative of The Meursault Investigation by Daoud, which acts as a retelling and response to Camus’ work. I argue that Camus’ decision not to name the victim, preferring instead to label him the Arab throughout the story, is a fundamentally orientalist act of colonialism. The thesis involves an exploration of names—including the ones that are missing—in the Stranger. There is also an in depth exploration of Daoud’s choice of names—his naming of the victim first conceived by Camus, his naming of the protagonist, of the author of the book-within-a-book that shapes the narrative, and of the eventual victim of the narrator himself. I also explore the claims made by Daoud, or his protagonist Haroun, concerning how the practice of naming affects power dynamics in a colonial (and then postcolonial) context, whether names have (or should have) meaning, and what it means that the Arab have a name in a modern, independent Algeria.

Though the principal texts for this exploration are Albert Camus’ The Stranger (l’Étranger) and Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Meursault contre-enquête), I rely on Edward Said’s Orientalism and Alice Kaplan’s Looking For the Stranger to ground my questions and contextualize the other sources, both in history and in existing postcolonial scholarship. I also draw on the essays and articles of Camus and Daoud, both accomplished and prolific journalists, to deepen my understanding of the authors’ positions regarding the questions of naming and othering, and to provide insight into the primary texts from the respective authors’ perspectives. In this way I aim to accurately reconstruct, and effectively critique, the positions of the authors regarding orientalism, colonialism, and what it means to be, or not be, named.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Language and Culture Studies: French and Hispanic Studies.