A significant setting in the novel is the beach.. The reader is first introduced to the setting of the beach in Chapter 4 when he goes with Marie to a beach outside Algiers. Although this is a different beach from the beach in chapter 6, Camus here shows our protagonist as always focusing on sensual physical pleasures or physical discomforts. Camus here defines Mearsault as a man indifferent, it seems, to whether something is right wrong or even appropriate, but instead acutely aware of how his physical environment is affecting him as seen in the following example.
'the four o' clock sun wasn't too hot,but the water was warm and rippled with long ,lazy waves. (p37)
One of the most important scenes in the novel takes place on the beach - the murder of the Arab. This contrast with the previous scene on the beach. Camus uses the imagery of the heat and the light to heighten the tension in this scene in Chapter 6 and to show how the discomfort Mearsault feels because of these elements is the driving force which leads him to pull the trigger. No longer is the sun and heat warm and pleasant but rather intensely hot and bright as seen in the following examples.
'it was hard to breathe in the dry heat rising from the ground.' (p54)
'the sun beating down on my bare head.'(p54)
'the same dazzling red glare.' (p58)
Camus continually makes reference to the heat and light until finally Mearsault feels driven, due to his physical discomfort, to confront the Arab. Unable to stand the sun any longer and finding the heat unbearable, he pulls the trigger. Ironically, to the reader Mearsault's apparent motive is to escape from the sun and the heat, not self defense, aggression or anything else. This decision will come back to haunt him in Part Two of the novel when he is interrogated by the magistrate in the courtroom scene and is unable to give a reason as to why he shot the Arab not once but three times.