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The Misunderstanding (French: Le Malentendu), sometimes published as Cross Purpose, is a play written in 1943 in occupied Paris by Albert Camus.

Plot summary

A man who has been living overseas for many years returns home to find his sister and widowed mother are making a living by taking in lodgers and subsequently murdering them. Since neither his sister nor his mother recognize him, he becomes a lodger himself without revealing his identity. Ultimately, his mother and sister kill him.


The plot of Le Malentendu partially resembles the article of a newspaper that the protagonist of The Stranger finds and excessively reads in his prison cell: the story of a man who became rich abroad and comes home to his village where his sister and mother have a hotel. He doesn't unveil his personality (in order to surprise them later), and books a room as a guest. Because he is wealthy, his mother and sister murder him while sleeping.


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