My Reflections Over the Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger opens up the death of Monsieur Meursault’s Maman. He attends her funeral showing no emotion or affection and the next day hooks up with his old coworker Marie. One day his neighbor Raymond asks him to write a letter to his mistress in his place so she will come back to him. When she does return, Raymond abuses her for cheating on him. His mistresses’ brother, an Arab is irate and soon Raymond feels threatened by him. One day Meursault, Marie, and Raymond go to Meursault’s wealthy friend Masson’s beach house for the weekend. The Arab’s followed them there and Meursault kills an Arab for no apparent reason. Part two starts the trial of Monsieur Meursault. After many days, he is proven guilty and sentenced with the death penalty. Later a chaplain stops by before his execution to help him repent and be saved. Meursault has no emotion and says he doesn’t care about heaven but rather making the most of right now.
What insight into society or human nature (the human condition) does this work offer?The stranger offers insight into society by showing how twisted human nature is. Monsieur Meursault was a heartless and ruthless man. He displayed no emotion what so ever and this is evident when he smokes at his mother’s vigil, something so absurd to society. Another proof of his lack of emotion was when he said he would marry Marie when he truly didn’t love her or when he killed an Arab for no apparent reason. These all point back to the fact that we live in a twisted world. People try to make excuses for their faults just like Meursault did after he killed an Arab. People need to start taking ownership for their actions and stop blaming the world for what they do.
The Theme Development
The theme is developed throughout the stranger in the events that take place leading up to Monsieur Meursault’s trial and then develop even more so when his trial occurs. His absurd actions begin on the first page of the book when he seems unaffected by his mother’s death and only grow in absurdity towards the end of the first part. During the second part of the book, Monsieur Meursault starts making excuses for his actions and blaming other things for his actions rather than just taking responsibility and repenting. Author’s style including diction (words) syntax (sentence structure), figurative language, ironic devices.
Camus uses great diction throughout The Stranger and never wastes his thoughts with lighthearted phrases and words. He is very straightforward with his diction and uses imagery to explain facts from the roundness of Marie’s breast to the way the night sky looks. Camus uses imagery to reveal Monsieur Meursault’s character. He is so visual yet lacks emotional feelings.
Four Memorable Quotations
‘It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). Meursault thinks this when he comes home from his mother’s funeral. This is a perfect depiction of the way that our society lives. His mother had just died and he goes on to say that “really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). How sad that the woman who had raised him was now gone and he didn’t care.
‘I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn’t see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered’ (Camus, 41). Monsieur Meursault is saying that he doesn’t know why he would want to live his life any different because he’s happy and to him that’s all that matters. There’s nothing bigger in life to him.
‘They had before them the basest of crimes, a crime made worse than sordid by the fact that they were dealing with a monster, a man without morals’ (Camus, 95). The narrator says this during Monsieur Meursault’s trial because he was being ridiculous and basically saying that he didn’t care that he killed someone. He was ruthless and didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t think how his trial would affect Marie or any of his friends, he only cared about himself and proving a point.
‘He wanted to talk to me about God again, but I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I only had a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God” (Camus, 74 ) Meursault was given a chance to save his soul before he died and yet he was so ignorant and self-centered that he thought he could only save himself. He didn’t want to even think about religion, because he was focused on living in the present and not worrying about what tomorrow would hold.
I enjoyed this literary work. It was short but still conveyed a strong message. The author was smart with depicting our society because I think Monsieur cared for nobody but himself and that is a perfect example of our world. People live for themselves. They put their needs in front of others and then when things go wrong, they blame other people. Less and less people are taking ownerships of their wrongs nowadays and it’s becoming a normal.
The Similarities and Differences Between the Stranger and Waiting for Godot
“The Stranger” is a novel by author Albert Camus, and “Waiting for Godot” is a play by author Samuel Beckett. Each of the works depict characters from very different societies, and in these differences lie some similarities that both works share. This essay will be discussing both similarities and differences that the novel and play share, in order to develop a better and deeper understanding of each piece of literature.
One of the common characteristics that the two pieces of literature share is how the characters pass their time. Camus quotes, “After lunch I was a little bored and I wandered around the apartment…A little later, just for something to do, I picked up an old newspaper and read it.” (Camus, 21). Meursault has a lot of free time on weekends. He has sexual intercourse with Marie the night before, which is an example of a method of passing time. Didi and Gogo pass their time in “Waiting for Godot” by talking nonsense. As shown in the play, they chatter and coincidentally meet strangers such as Pozzo to pass the time. The conversations between Didi and Gogo were not necessary, and they could all be deleted because they are made up of meaningless idle chatter as they wait for Godot. Both characters in both pieces of literature pass their time by entertaining themselves with surrounding objects or people. This also shows that time is irrational as the characters do not acknowledge time, but instead find events to kill time. Both pieces of literature display repetition of daily routines. Meursault works and enjoys the weekends; Didi and Gogo meet the same people over and over.
Another similarity shared in both pieces of literature is the powerlessness and immobility that the characters experience. In Part 2 of “The Stranger”, Meursault was sent to prison for the death of the Arab, and after the trial the judge declared him as guilty. Camus quoted, “When I was imprisoned, the hardest thing was that my thoughts were still those of a free man…all of a sudden I would feel just how closed in I was by the walls of my cells.” (Camus, 76). Prison clearly limited Meursault’s freedom, and he was physically trapped inside his prison cell, mentally limited by the confined environment he was in. Meursault was unable to exit freely out of his cell, and his freedom was being suppressed by the law and society. Similarly, Beckett quotes,
“Estragon Charming spot. [He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.] Inspiring prospects. [He turns to Vladimir.] Let’s go.
Vladimir We can’t
Estragon Why not?
Vladimir Were waiting for Godot.” (Beckett, 8).
Gogo wants to leave, but Didi reminds him that they are unable to leave. Didi and Gogo’s adulation of Godot suppressed their urge of leaving, which shows the control that Godot has over Didi and Gogo’s minds. Didi and Gogo are powerless; they are waiting for the mighty Godot to come and meet them. The major characters in both pieces of literature are immobile due to the powerlessness they have, and they are limited by either a divine force or by law and society.
The two pieces of literature have thoroughly articulated upon the concept that life is meaninglessness. In “Waiting for Godot”, Didi and Gogo have repeatedly waited for Godot every day. Godot never shows up, but they still go to the same place by the tree every day and repeat their procedure. It is meaningless for Vladimir and Estragon to repeatedly wait for someone who is a “no show”. There is no point in waiting for someone who never shows up. The promise was broken by not showing up, and Didi and Gogo should not put that much hope and trust in Godot because it is meaningless. Similarly, in “The Stranger”, Camus quotes, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” (Camus, 3). At the beginning of the book, Meursault received a letter informing him of his mother’s death. Meursault shows no grievances nor sorrow towards this affair. Instead, he is more concerned about the specific dates. He views his mother’s death just like any other person’s death that occurs every day. In Meursault’s view, death is as good as being alive. There is no significant advantage regarding either state as the whole existence of life is illogical to Meursault.
With similarities comes differences. The two pieces of literature show very diverse ideas of explaining life and religion. “The Stranger” displays an absurdist view of the world. As Camus quotes, “Then, I don’t know why, but something inside me snapped. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me.” (Camus, 120). The Chaplain approaches Meursault to try and convince him to turn to God before the few hours he has left of his life. However, instead of embracing the mental help that the Chaplain is providing, Meursault gets angry. He refuses to accept divine rule over humans; instead, he accepts the indifference of the world. He thinks the whole universe is absurd, and he is aware that he cannot do anything to change it; instead, he decides to just live with it. In contrast, “Waiting for Godot” suggests that there IS a divine ruling over human beings. The setting of the whole story can be interpreted as a cross-bridge of the afterlife. It suggests that Didi and Gogo are waiting for Godot to answer their call of acceptance into heaven. The name “Godot” contains the word “God”, and it is obvious that the author portrays the character of Godot to be the divine power. This book accepts that there is a God that is ruling the world, and the scenes prove to be the supernatural events, which occur after a person’s death.
Another concept that differs between these two pieces of literature is how each character from each book expresses their emotions. In “The Stranger”, after Meursault is sent into prison, his emotions are only portrayed in his mind. Thoughts swirl in his mind but are not expressed verbally. Meursault has no one to depend on. He does not put his trust in anyone. He bases his judgment on what he thinks is right or wrong, but he does not speak up or give his own opinion; instead, he bites his tongue and keeps it to himself. In contrast, Didi and Gogo express their emotions like tides in a flood. Both characters display dramatic feelings, and their gestures augmented their feelings even more. As shown in the play:
“Estragon I am happy
Vladimir So am I.
Estragon So am I.
Vladimir We are happy
Estragon We are happy. [Silence.] What do we do now, now that we are happy?” (Beckett, 50).
This quote shows how easily both of them express their emotions instead of running thoughts through their heads and thinking of what others will comment. Both Didi and Gogo are bluntly honest with their opinions, and there is no hiding anything in their heads.
The characters in both pieces of literature have different forms of self-awareness. Meursault only gains self-awareness during the second part of the book when he is locked up in prison. “…and for the first time in months, I distinctly heard the sound of my own voice. I recognized it as the same one that had been ringing in my ears for many long days, and I realized that all that time I had been talking to myself.” (Camus, 81). Meursault had already lost count of the days he had been in prison, and he finally realized that he had gone crazy. He was aware and conscious that these prison walls have isolated him and tormented his loneliness. In contrast, Didi and Gogo are not aware of where they are, and their determined destiny is confusing as the constant repetition of days pass by. They merely remember that the same people turn up every time, and they are lost in their own world of waiting for Godot. They are not aware that their actions are meaningless, and Godot is not going to show up.
In conclusion, the two pieces of literature paint an image of two different philosophical ideas, while they also share some similarities. The meaninglessness of life is a shared concept within both books, while the ideas about God and religion differ as “The Stranger” depicts absurdism while “Waiting for Godot” shows existentialism as Vladimir and Estragon try to create meaning by believing in God. All in all, these splendid works clash and collide to form the ideas I have examined in this essay.
A Man Against Society in the Stranger Novel
Meursault goes around without a purpose in his life. He often acts irrationally (at least to other, ‘normal’ people), which is shocking and unacceptable to the jury, as well as to the general population, who eventually convict him. It seems that his actions are purely impulsive and he doesn’t really have a real reason for doing so. This makes the jury afraid, as it seems that this is what monsters do, who have no feelings on murder and do things without thinking, and then afterwards, do not care about what they have done. I think that Camus is trying to show how strangers to society are not welcomed, and how even though Meursault may have perfectly good reasons for doing things, because his motives are different from other peoples, then he must be eliminated.
When he encounters the strange robot lady (Pg. 43), Meursault is very confused. Why would she be so meticulous in her actions, and why would she do something that seemed so pointless to him? Then, when she leaves the restaurant, he starts following her out into the street, something that would appear weird and slightly creepy to a viewer of this scene. However, this is only because he is interested in someone who he doesn’t understand, and wants to find out more. In my opinion, this is Camus trying to show how the actions of a stranger can easily be misunderstood, and how Meursault is almost like a child, acting purely out of his curiosity. It seems like he does whatever he wants, and what he wants is focused on what he sees in his daily life. He sees the robot lady and is interested, so he follows her. He just wants to watch people so he does it. In my mind, Meursault often acts childish and without purpose, for he never really expresses his feelings until it pours out of him unstoppably, such as when he suddenly fires methodically five times, one at a time, into the Arab.
Because of his strange actions, which seem to have no purpose at all to the regular person, the jury, when convicting him, see him as a psychopath who shows no remorse for killing the Arab. This is true, that he does not show remorse for the murder, but he has a good reason, supposedly, for killing. He claims that the sun forced him to do it, and although this may sound insane, throughout the book Meursault often complains about the heat and how it affects him. “All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me.” (Pg. 59). Meursault is threatened by the Arab with a knife, which does encourage him to shoot, but the main reason why he does so is because of the heat bearing down on him. “But today, with the sun bearing down, making the whole landscape shimmer with heat, it was inhuman and oppressive.” (Pg. 15) I think that Camus made Meursault feel so uncomfortable around heat because it is the only thing that affects his emotion, and one of the main things that causes him to act out. “I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists in my trouser pockets, and strained every nerve in order to overcome the sun and the thick drunkenness it was spilling over me.” (Pg. 57) “It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward… It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire.” (Pg. 59) Meursault is actively trying to overcome the control over him held by the heat, but he is unsuccessful and in a flash, fires his gun. It seems the only time when he isn’t in full control of himself is when it is overpoweringly hot and dry, which makes him very uncomfortable and forces him to do things he wouldn’t normally do.
It does seem a little odd that Meursault doesn’t show any feeling for his mother. After all, she raised him for a great part of his life. However, when put into context, this is normal for Meursault, who is never shown really displaying any kind of emotion, besides when he was yelling at the chaplain. There are lots of parallels to this lack of affection, such as Salamano and his dog, who do love each other but cannot display it through traditional ways, or the young man in jail with his mother, who cannot do anything but look at each other through the bars, stuck a few feet away from each other. These parallels show how even though Meursault seemingly treats his mother neutrally and acts like he doesn’t really care whether she died or not, he is affected by the loss just as much as anyone else would be by the death of their mother. “I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything… What I can say for certain is that I would rather Maman hadn’t died.” (Pg. 65) Meursault isn’t really sure how to put his relationship with his mother. He loves her, but he cannot put that into words or actions. Again, he is like a child, who can feel the emotions and can understand what is happening but cannot speak for themselves why they are feeling those emotions, or express those emotions out loud. “I would have liked to have tried explaining to him cordially, almost affectionately, that I had never been able to truly feel remorse for anything. My mind was always on what was coming next, today or tomorrow.” (Pg. 100) Here the prosecutor is claiming that because Meursault has never felt any remorse for the murder, then he must not have regretted it, so therefore he is a monster. However, Meursault has never really been able to show or feel remorse or anything like that, as all he puts his mind to is the future, not the past. He sees something he is interested in, and forgets all else.
Camus has created a book where the main character is a ‘stranger’ to society, and who doesn’t get why people do things. It is fitting that in the end, Meursault comes to grips with his death, which he views as inevitable, and embraces his role as a stranger to society. He finally realizes that he is different from everybody else, and accepts that. Now, he wishes for himself to be proved right, and for society to hate him and will his death to come quickly. This reinforced my idea of Meursault as a child, because he has no more will to live anymore, and only wants for himself to be proved right.
Opposition to the Will of the Majority in the Stranger Novel
The Stranger: Absurdism and Opposition
Albert Camus’ The Stranger tells a narrative about a peculiar shipping clerk in French Algiers named Meursault. The novel meanders through different events of Meursault’s life and explains his personality, emphasizing his opposition to the will of the majority. The protagonist lives his life emotionally detached and shows no compassion or hatred towards others. This amoral approach to existence separates him from the rest of society. The novel begins with Meursault attending his mother’s funeral after she passed away in a nursing home. Showing little remorse, Meursault then frolics with his new girlfriend and manages to forget about this traumatizing experience. The story concluded with Meursault engaging in a verbal dispute with an Arab man and proceeding to shoot his body several times. Camus tells the fictional story of Meursault to explain a greater meaning and a philosophical approach to existence: absurdism and existentialism. These philosophical theories imply that a moral code of conduct has no rational basis and that life has no higher meaning as many expect it to do. Immediately, Meursault finds himself to interpret the meaning of his existence vastly different than others around him, isolating him from the rest of his community. In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault exemplifies his opposition to the will of the majority by actively opposing social customs and only acknowledging physical attributes in his daily occurrences, as he refuses to observe his mother in her funeral casket and is devoid of all emotions when interacting with his girlfriend or the Arab.
Meursault initially demonstrates his unintentional defiance of societal norms at his mother’s funeral and as a result, showing signs of disrespect towards her. In the beginning chapters, the caretaker offers and urges to remove Madame Meursault’s casket so Meursault may see his mother for the last time. This tradition holds great significance in this culture and is recognized as a moment of compassion, as the child is able to see his or her parent for the last time. However, Meursault blatantly rejects the caretaker’s offer and refuses to see his mother one final time. This act of disrespect baffles the caretaker and he attributes it to Meursault’s lack of disinterest in his mother. The caretaker also takes note that Meursault casually adds milk in his coffee and drinks it after refusing to see his mother. Once again, the violation of a simple social norm confuses the caretaker and adds to Meursault’s enigmatic personality. The tradition at the time was not to partake in coffee with milk and to stay away from that pleasure, yet Meursault readily disregards the convention. Although his demeanor at his mother’s funeral is unorthodox, Meursault expresses complete outrage towards religious traditions while in jail. After killing the Arab man and being sentenced to prison, Meursault is approached by a chaplain who attempts to pray for Meursault and cleanse him of his sins. Meursault, however, violently resists the chaplain’s assistance. He exclaims that there simply is no evidence for a life after this one. Meursault’s readiness to reject all norms and cultures forces him to be an outlier in society. Opposing norms and traditions constitutes the definition of an outsider and an individual who opposes the majority’s will. Furthermore, Meursault justifies both actions here through his philosophical beliefs. His nihilistic tendencies show the reader that he is incapable of forming legitimate emotional attachments and refuses to accept religion. This worldview is contradictory to what much of society believes, that good and purpose in the world can be created. However, by embracing nihilism and existentialism, understanding that this life is meaningless and that there is no higher meaning, Meursault finds a will to live. This leads Meursault to mindlessly decline all social and religious norms and exclude himself from society.
Meursault’s adamant rejection of societal traditions leads him to only acknowledging physical attributes in his daily occurrences. Camus first demonstrates this at Madame Meursault’s funeral. Meursault easily avoids any emotional attachment he had with his mother when at her funeral and only takes time to contemplate the heat of the sun. Meursault attempts to be pragmatics by only assessing the consequences that physically affect him. Furthermore, Meursault complains about his drowsiness and lack of sleep, explaining his interest to sleep on the bus on his way home from his mother’s funeral. Adopting such a strict and practical mindset sets him apart from the majority, as Meursault is incapable of forming emotional attachments or showing remorse. Marie, Meursault’s girlfriend, is also susceptible to his incapability. In the initial stages of the relationship, Meursault only acknowledges the sexual relations they have with one another. Furthermore, when Marie expresses that she loves Meursault and wants to marry him, Meursault does nothing but offer an indifferent response to both her emotional statements. His uninterested responses cause Marie to question her relationship with Meursault and whether or not he truly loves her. Finally, in the last few scenes as Meursault kills the Arab man, Meursault is unable to explain why he killed the Arab man, but vividly recounts the weather and the sun’s intense heat. Meursault’s inclination to only record the physical feature of each experience causes him to lose sight of the other pleasures in life. His abnormal perception of the world causes him to become an outlier from society. When Meursault is mentally incapable of forming emotional bonds with others, people in society are disgusted because forming emotional relationships and looking past material pleasures constitutes a true eudemonic lifestyle.
In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault demonstrates his opposition to the will of the majority by actively opposing societal and religious traditions and only acknowledging physical goods in his daily occurrences, as he refuses to observe his mother in her funeral casket and is devoid of all emotions when interacting with his girlfriend or killing the Arab man. Camus’ narrative tells a larger story in which embracing the idea that life has no real purpose, the philosophy that both he and Meursault adopt, causes him to be isolated from society. Camus was a staunch follower of absurdism, a school of thought which emphasizes on the conflict between seeking inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. Because finding intrinsic worth in human life is a human tendency, straying from any code of conduct or good causes one to be isolated by others and an absurdist. Meursault demonstrates himself to be an absurdist by rejecting the social and cultural norms present at his time and refusing to acknowledge the emotional connection he has with individuals. Camus portrays Meursault himself to be an absurdist and an individual who acts contrary to the will or ideals of the majority at the time.
Evolution of a Main Character in the Stranger Novel
Characters in novels often follow a self-identifying path. This path can lead to one of three outcomes: progression, regression, or stagnation, of character. Meursault, of The Stranger, by Albert Camus, progresses as a character, starting as apathetic about, and unaware of, the happenings of his life and ending the novel with newfound passion and insight on the world.
The Stranger opens with Meursault saying “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know”(3). He receives the news from a telegram sent from the nursing home Meursault put his mother (Maman) in. From the very beginning it’s clear that Meursault is indifferent to his mother’s death. Instead of mourning her loss, he ponders which specific day was the day of her death, sounding slightly annoyed with the vagueness of the telegram. Meursault also shows an apathy towards his mother with how seldom he visited her. He says that “getting to the bus, buying ticket, and spending two hours traveling”(5) would be troublesome and that visiting would take up “his”(5) Sunday. Meursault goes to the funeral, and instead of mourning his loss or reflecting on his emotions, he takes the time to observe the actions of the attendants to the funeral, such as the old people “sucking at the insides of their cheeks”(11), making a strange noise. He seems more bothered than anything for having to be at the funeral, and not very much distressed by his mother passing away.
Meursault’s apathy extends past familial relationships and reaches into his romantic life as well. He runs into Marie Cardona, who used to work at the same office that Meursault is employed at, and the two rekindle the relationship they shared in the past. He flirts with her on a physical level rather than emotionally. He “brushes up on her breasts”(19) and wraps around her waist, managing to seduce her that night. While Marie seems to be interested in Meursault romantically, even loving him, Meursault is hungry for sex, and Marie provides him just that. One morning the two spend together demonstrates this contrast. When Marie laughed he “wanted her again”(35) but when she asks if he loves her, Meursault answers “it [doesn’t] mean anything but no I don’t think so.”(35). Despite how much he wants her physically, Meursault is apathetic to her feelings towards him, brushing them off as unnecessary as well as not expressing love towards her. Even at the idea of marriage, he is indifferent. Marie asks him directly if he wanted to marry her, and he says that it “wouldn’t make any difference to [him]”(41) and that it “didn’t really matter”(41).
So much of Meursault’s life is wrapped in indifference and detachment. On the bus ride to Maman’s funeral, a soldier asked if he had been “traveling long”(4), with Meursault answering “yes” so he “wouldn’t have to say anything else”(4). He shows no interest in the world around him. As Maman’s friends arrive to the funeral, even though he observes them, Meursault finds it “hard to believe they really existed”(9). His neighbor Raymond invites him over to his home for dinner, and the only reason Meursault agrees is because he sees no reason not to, and it would “save [him] the trouble of having to cook for [himself]”(28). This apathy and isolation culminates in Meursault shooting an Arab man that had previously pulled a knife on both him and Raymond. Meursault then fires “four more times at the motionless body” thinking “it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness”(59). He has expressed genuine emotion.
While shooting the body multiple times after the Arab has already died is demonstrative of his detachment from other humans, the sentiment behind the murder signals a change in Meursault. He states that he had “shattered the harmony of the day [and] the exceptional silence of a beach where I’d been happy”(59). Happiness. Meursault felt happiness on the beach that day. This is the most emotion that Meursault has shown thus far in the novel. He also felt unhappiness because the shooting with the Arab disrupted his beach day. Meursault is becoming introspective and self-aware. Meursault is promptly arrested and put in a prison for the murder of the Arab.
In prison, Meursault becomes much more perceptive. One night, as he stares at his reflection in a plate, Meursault hears “the sound of his own voice”(81). He realizes that it was the voice that rang in his head “for many long days”(81) and finally that he had been “talking to [himself”(81) the entire time. Before this point, Meursault paid little mind to what he felt outside of the physical. He had not taken time to analyze himself, instead opting to ignore such an idea. Being alone to himself with nothing to occupy his time has given Meursault the opportunity to truly think. This introspection leads to a burst in Meursault. A chaplain, who had served as spiritual guide for Meursault in prison, comes to talk to him about God, having done so before. This time however, Meursault has more than apathy to express. As the chaplain goes on about God and that Meursault is not certain about his life, proposing that he had “wished for another life”(119) at one point or another.
The chaplain’s certainty in ideas that Meursault sees as meaningless only served to annoy, and soon pushed Meursault over the edge. The chaplain reaches to Meursault to pray for him, snapping a cord inside him. Meursault starts yelling at and insulting the chaplain, “pouring out…everything that was in [his] heart,(120)” including “cries of anger and cries of joy”(120). By this point he has grabbed the chaplain by the collar, violently letting out every emotion that he could. Meursault sees the world for what it is. He sees that every person is “elected by the same fate”(121) and that everyone would be “condemned”(121) no matter what, even if he is “accused of murder and then executed because he didn’t cry at his funeral”(121) or if Marie “offered her lips to a new Meursault”(121-122). Nothing mattered because every person would succumb to the same fate is what Meursault has come to realize.
The blind rage seems to have “washed [Meursault] clean”(122) and “rid him of hope”(122). Before this point, Meursault had thought of escape from his demise, such as “a mixture of chemicals that if ingested by the patient would kill him nine times out of ten”(111). He daydreamed of a slim chance of survival, dreading how absolute the death by guillotine would be. But now, Meursault felt open to the world, which held the same indifference he had always held to himself. He thought the world in its indifference “like a brother”(123) and the kinship made him “happy again”(123). At this point, Meursault feels a bond towards the world around him, something never seen in him before. The world, in its indifference, seemed to open up to Meursault, and he felt awakened to its likeness to him.
Killing the Arab was a sign. It was the catalyst of Meursault’s progression. He changed from a man completely apathetic towards everything and everyone, including himself, to a passionate man with a deep understanding of himself and of the indifference of the world around him.
Behavior and Character Of Meursault In The Stranger Novel
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Albert Camus’ The Stranger follows the life of a man after the death of his mother whom one learns very little about, save for some few words of wisdom that the man, Meursault, recalls sporadically throughout the novel. One of the striking elements of the story is Meursault’s seeming lack of interest in all things concerning the people that are, or should be, close to him and the events that surround him. During the viewing for his mother, and also during her funeral, Meursault expresses none of the feelings of grief or mourning that would usually accompany someone whose mother has just died. Very quickly after the funeral, in fact, when Meursault should have been in mourning, he instead quickly goes back to his normal routine, except for the addition of a new girlfriend, Marie, and his new friend, Raymond, who both become very important people to Meursault in spite of his indifferent demeanor. The story comes to climax twice: the first occurring when Meursault shoots the Arab at the beach and the second, when the chaplain comes to speak to him as Meursault waits for the result of his appeal. He is convicted of murder, having very little evidence to support his defense, and sentenced to death. However, the bulk of the argument against Meursault all refers back to how he reacted to the death of his mother, a factor which he finds to be irrelevant to his case.
Ultimately, Meursault’s entire narration since the announcement of his mother’s death stands as an affirmation to insignificance of death and life and the tight control society has over its population. Meursault speaks of it as he comes to terms with his death: the universe is indifferent. People ask him of his opinions, his feelings toward the things he has said and done, or of things concerning the future, wanting to drag out answers which would be considered normal and acceptable to the society man has created. But Meursault does not confine himself to social norms and demonstrates this throughout the story in dealing with his mother’s death and Marie’s proposals, in befriending Raymond, and in rejecting religion. Society cares about funerals. Notice that it was the retirement home that arranged the funeral for Meursault’s mother. Society cares about marriage. Society rejects lowly persons such as Raymond. Society, at least at that time, promotes religion. Meursault runs counter to such things, and, as a result, is punished by the society.
Yes, Meursault killed a man. But pining away at the reasons for it will reveal no solid conclusion. In fact, I believe it to be only a tangible affirmation of Meursault’s estrangement from the society. In his narration, the reader sees that he has friends and that there are people who care about him in spite of his oddities, but they are merely individuals and do not represent the society at large. His shooting the Arab was the final straw that society needed in order to rightfully (according to its laws) show Meursault the error of his being; namely, his unwillingness to conform to societal ideals.
Sympathy for Protagonists of The Stranger and Metamorphosis
In Camus’ The Stranger and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the protagonist finds himself in an extraordinary situation that challenges his will. In both novels, this initially unsympathetic character struggles to redeem himself. In so doing, his identity develops and his positive qualities become evident. The characters thus become unexpectedly sympathetic to the reader, and each novel concludes with a hopeful tone.
In The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault can be judged as a cold-hearted killer who is emotionally detached from the world around him. His alienation from society and indifference to love and sorrow are blatant. “Mother died today,” he comments, “Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” He treats others callously: “She asked me if I loved her. I told her it didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t think so.” Meursault only focuses on the physical aspects of life, especially relating to light and heat: “There wasn’t a shadow to be seen and every object… stood out so sharply that it was painful to my eyes.”
The Stranger’s central event occurs when Meursault shoots the Arab. The language used in this passage is so elaborate and rich in simile – “The steel… was like a long, flashing sword,” for example – almost detaches the act from Meursault and causes the reader to question whether he did it with intent or not: “That’s when everything began to reel. The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire… The trigger gave.” Camus detaches Meursault from the action with “The trigger gave,” further insulating Meursault against intent or consequence – and therefore against blame.
In prison, Meursault’s positive qualities become apparent. He has the opportunity to get away with a minor sentence but instead, with “It was because of the sun,” admits his guilt. He also appears more sympathetic in contrast to the unlikable judge who “sees nothing but a monster” in Meursault. The reader, who has come to see the killing as unpremeditated, feels defensive of the protagonist when the judge wishes the death sentence upon Meursault and states: “Never before have I felt this onerous task so fully compensated and counterbalanced, not to say enlightened by a sense of urgent and sacred duty.” The reader feels the judge is being overly harsh to Meursault, misjudging his inherently decent (if detached and alienated) character. When the climax is reached and Meursault is sentenced to death, we therefore feel sympathetic to this formerly unpalatable character.
Gregor of Kafka’s Metamorphosis comes across as self-involved and unsympathetic at first. Some evidence suggests that Gregor, unlike Meursault, acts this way intentionally. For example, his primary reason for working so hard and supporting his whole family is to appear as a hero: “If I didn’t have to hold my hand because of my parents I would have given notice long ago.” He even prioritizes it over romantic relationships, as the picture in his bedroom shows no personal companion or even a sensuous image but rather shows “a lady, with a fur cap on and a fur stole, sitting upright.”
Gregor’s transformation into a beetle can be viewed in two ways. On the one hand we feel pity that he should, for no specific reason, be turned into a repulsive beetle. On the other hand we feel that he deserves it, considering that his life seemed very hollow and unimportant before his transformation. In either case, Gregor’s real transformation takes place throughout the story as he comes to realize that what truly makes him happy is not his “strenuous career” but rather things such as his sister playing the violin “so beautifully.”
The point of view used in Metamorphosis is the limited omniscient, which functions to help Kafka create sympathy for Gregor. If we were given accounts of Gregor only by his family, our opinion of him would be limited. At first his parents appear to care for him: “‘Oh dear,’ cried his mother, in tears, ‘perhaps he’s terribly ill;’” but after seeing him as a beetle, they show no sympathy for him at all: “Pitilessly Gregor’s father drove him back, hissing and crying ‘Shoo!’ like a savage.” By using the limited omniscient instead of the third person point of view, Kafka provides insight into Gregor’s sometimes unselfish ideas: “It was a secret plan of his that [his sister] should be sent next year to study [the violin]… despite the great expense.”
As the reader’s sympathy builds for Gregor, he, like Meursault, becomes a victim. Now that Gregor is just an “old dung-beetle,” his family may as well pelt him with apples until he dies. What is he worth if not providing a comfortable life for the family?
Just as the prosecutor in The Stranger is made to appear unsympathic, so too is Gregor’s family in Metamorphosis. By using these comparisons, the protagonists are made to seem like heroes, even if only for a short time, and therefore more sympathetic. In addition, both Gregor and Meursault go through a transformation throughout their stories and become wiser: “As if that blind rage has washed me clean, rid me of hope,” one says. “For the first time… I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” Their emotional evolution is another reason that readers become more sympathetic to them.
Camus and Kafka also show their characters’ awareness and fear before their deaths, their vulnerability making the reader feel even more compassion for them. The previously unemotional Meursault has become fearful: “I explained to him that I wasn’t in despair. I was simply afraid.” Just as he begins to make sense of the world, life is stolen from him: “The presiding judge told me in a bizarre language that I was to have my head cut off in a public square…” But Camus has resigned himself to his fate: “The presiding judge asked me if I had anything to say. I thought about it. I said, ‘No.’” Gregor reacts in a similarly odd, detached manner when he is left to die: “‘I’d like to eat something,’ said Gregor anxiously, ‘but not anything like they’re eating. They do feed themselves. And here I am, dying!’” By concluding the novels with death, Camus and Kafka show symbolically that the characters have completed – as best they can – the journey to find true identity.
Camus’ and Kafka’s decision to make their characters sympathetic carries the implication that there is hope within all of us – that we can change our views toward what might have once seemed unsympathetic or simply distasteful. We see Meursault and Gregor struggle through circumstances beyond their control only to fail in the end, making them seem, paradoxically, almost heroic. Their positive qualities gradually emerge – not least at the time of their deaths, when Gregor for example thinks of his family “with tenderness and love” – and the reader is left feeling unexpected sympathy for both characters.
“The Stranger” by Albert Camus
Isolation can affect anyone. But how can it affect relationships? The novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus, is about an isolated character named Meursault. His relationships are heavily affected by his isolation, but he still chose to be isolated. Isolation can affect relationships because it can cause a person to block off emotions, feel indifferent towards other people’s situations and prevent a person from experiencing a deep or complex relationship. Therefore, isolation can negatively affect your relationships.
Isolation can cause a person to not feel or block out all emotions toward any other person they know. In the book there are a lot of examples of the main character blocking or not acknowledging his feelings, love is one of the feelings he doesn’t feel/acknowledge. Love is a feeling that everyone wants and needs. But not acknowledging or blocking it can destroy your relationships with others. This is prominent in the book because Meursault has a girlfriend that loves him, but he doesn’t love her and that it doesn’t matter. He is very fond of her, but he doesn’t love her. Marie asked Meursault to marry him, and he said yes but she questions, why he does this, “Marie came that evening and asked me if I’d marry her. I said I didn’t mind; if she was keen on it, we’d get married. Then she asked me again if I loved her. I replied, much as before, that her question meant nothing or next to nothing—but I supposed I didn’t. “If that’s how you feel,” she said, “why marry me?” (Camus 28). Meursault is sending Marie mixed messages, he says he wants to marry her, but he doesn’t love her. He expresses that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, but he doesn’t love her, and he slightly dodges the love question. So, this is an example of him not acknowledging or blocking his feelings for Marie. Death is a very important part of all lives and of this book. It’s a very sad time for everyone but isolation can affect a person’s feelings towards death too. In the book, Meursault’s mother passed away of a tumor. He sent her to a home because he thought she wasn’t happy with him and for some other reasons. He didn’t talk to her for a long time and he didn’t even know about her tumor. He didn’t provide for her at all at the home. At time of her death he didn’t feel sad, he didn’t feel anything. He acted like nothing happened. While he was on trial, he was asked by the prosecution about his mother and her funeral, “He went on to ask if I had felt grief on that “sad occasion.” The question struck me as an odd one; I’d have been much embarrassed if I’d had to ask anyone a thing like that. I answered that, of recent years, I’d rather lost the habit of noting my feelings, and hardly knew what to answer. I could truthfully say I’d been quite fond of Mother—but really that didn’t mean much” (Camus 41). Normally, a mother’s death is heart-breaking, but he didn’t really feel anything regarding his mother’s death even though he says he was fond of her. He also expresses he doesn’t really love his mother and is just fond of her. This shows that he doesn’t feel grief or any other feeling toward his mother. Isolation can affect your emotions and make you not acknowledge or not feel any emotions.
Isolation can also cause you to not care about the situation other people are in. normally people don’t condone domestic violence, but Meursault is actually making it happen for people that he doesn’t know. The people I’m talking about is Raymond and his ex-girlfriend. Meursault helped him write a letter that would make her come to Raymond and once she did he would hit her because she cheated on him. He has beat her for cheating before and there was a good chance he would so this again. Normally the person in Meursault’s position would have stopped Raymond form doing so and told him to end his relationship with her but he was influenced by Raymond to do so. He also saw him hit his girlfriend but didn’t intervene to stop his friend from making a mistake. The prosecution questioned him about this while he was on trial, “How comes it then,” the Prosecutor inquired, “that the letter which led up to this tragedy was the prisoner’s work?” Raymond replied that this, too, was due to mere chance. To which the Prosecutor retorted that in this case “chance” or “mere coincidence” seemed to play a remarkably large part. Was it by chance that I hadn’t intervened when Raymond assaulted his mistress?” (Camus 59). This shows he didn’t care about the situation his friend, Raymond, was in or even his girlfriend who was getting beat right in front of him. He just watched, and any normal person would tell the police or intervene themselves if they knew each other.
This shows that he doesn’t care if his friend is doing something illegal and could go to jail and that says a lot about his character which is heavily influenced by his isolation. He doesn’t care about anyone that is close to his family either. At his mother’s funeral, her friends were crying and were very sad that they lost their friend. Normally in this situation the person would help calm down her friends or mourn their losses together, but he didn’t do any if that because he didn’t care. He didn’t even talk to any of her friends or even her best friend. During his trail his mother’s best friend was called to the stand, “Well, I was most upset, you know. Far too much upset to notice things. My grief sort of blinded me, I think. It had been a great shock, my dear friend’s death; in fact, I fainted during the funeral. So, I didn’t hardly notice the young gentleman at all.” The Prosecutor asked him to tell the court if he’d seen me weep. And when Pérez answered, “No” (Camus 57). If he stayed and grieved with the people who were close to his mother, Pérez would have noticed, if he cried he might’ve noticed that too. This shows that he didn’t grieve his mother death with her loved ones at all and normally people would do that
Isolation can affect a person’s relationships the most. In Meursault’s case it made him unable to experience deep and complex relationships. He didn’t have a good relationship with his mother and that was why he sent her to a home. They ended up having nothing to talk about and he sent her to an old age home. Usually children and their mothers have a special bond and care always care for them unless anything happened to their relationship and Meursault’s relationship with his mother was perfect and he said he was fond of her. In Meursault’s trial, Salamano talked about why he sent his mother to a home, “he said that Mother and I had very little in common and that explained why I’d fixed up for her to enter the Home. “You’ve got to understand,” he added. “You’ve got to understand.” But no one seemed to understand. He was told to stand down.” (Camus 59) Salamano was trying to help him but it didn’t work because everyone else thought that having nothing to talk about isn’t a good reason to send her to a home and not talk to her. So, at home his relationship with his mother was very casual and normally that isn’t the case with a mother and her child. This is happening because his isolation. He also doesn’t even try to develop a deep relationship with Marie either. Marie tries to see if he loves her, but he says no, he also thinks of their relationship as mostly physical, he talks about it, “Marie shouted to me that I had to have hope. I said, “Yes.” I was looking at her as she said it and I wanted to squeeze her shoulders through her dress. I wanted to feel the thin material and I didn’t really know what else I had to hope for other than that.” (Camus 47) This part shows that he only comforted by her physically and not by her words and actions. They have been together for a long time and normally they would develop some sort of emotional connection. In this situation the emotional connection is mostly one sided and that is because of Meursault’s isolation.
If Meursault didn’t isolate himself from the rest of the world he would have better relationships because of isolation he blocks or didn’t acknowledge his emotions, cares less about other people ‘s situations and it causes him to not be in committed deep, emotional relationships. This topic is important because isolation can ruin lives. Meursault’s life was ruined because of it and not just the person isolating themselves but everyone they interacted with especially if they have a relationship with them.
Commentary of a Passage Taken from " the Comfort of the Strangers "
The passage taken from “The Comfort of Strangers “by Ian McEwan essentially describes the want of two sisters Eva and Maria to look beautiful and furthermore the denial of their parents towards the girls’ desires. It is written in the third person i.e. the omniscient. The passage conveys few symbols: Beauty through the want of the sisters to look gorgeous ie. lipsticks, mascaras make up etc. , The truth and honesty through the confession of the boy.
Owing to the fact that, when cosmetics are used they don’t illustrate the true face or beauty of the person they also symbolize the deceptiveness of appearances.
The main centralized theme in this passage is deception. The girls lay trust on their brother for not disclosing whatever they did in the absence of the elders. But, conversely, we see that the boy divulges every action of his sisters.
Furthermore, there are a couple of primary themes: childishness in the first paragraph and tension of the girls that their parents would return soon.
We see that passage gradually passes from the afternoon to later in the afternoon and then to the dinner. So, it is chronological. The passage, when observed started with an exclamation and a question as well. “So! Did my sisters hate me?” – This paints a picture of the dubiousness, the author is having about whether his sisters in the future will lay trust on him or not. The Speaker in the passage is Robert – the young brother of the teen girls. At first he seems to be tranquil characters – moving comfortably with his sisters. But in the last part we observe a friction developed between him and his sisters.
This passage can be humorous to the audience especially to kids who do not have any kind of desires as such of the sisters mentioned in the passage. The way the sisters have been cheated can be funny. In contrary to the humour, the passage can also generate a sense of discontent in the reader’s mind as the sisters had been cheated and their actions have been disclosed which they wish for. The passage is set in house. The situation in the first can be said to normal as elements of love and relationship can be observed. Ironically , as the day advances into the afternoon and into the evening a large variance is observed. The tension of the girls and the seriousness when they are blamed can be discerned.
Along with this sad atmosphere created when the girls are blamed , when the first part is carefully swot up it can be noticed that a pleasant mood is indicated. Initially, in the passage, we see that the author uses they, them and their frequently. Hence repetition is observed. In the later part the author addresses the sisters to look like American film stars, thus using metaphor. The whole passage can create empathy in the minds of the readers – especially in adult girls towards the two sisters. ¶As a consequence there are a lot of images produced in the reader’s mind.
The girls waving their arms in the air to dry their nails and the metaphorical image – Girls addressed as the American film stars. Imagery, especially in this passage explains the frame or the situation much more in detail. Every action returns to its source – it may take very short time or even aeons . The confession had alienated the author from his sisters. His actions left him pondering whether his sisters will again lay trust on him in the future.
Albert Camus: Written Assignment
During the interactive oral, we discussed the main theme of the meaninglessness of human life that is present in The Stranger by Albert Camus. We emphasized mainly on Meursault’s detached and unemotional characteristics, especially when the jury uses this against him at his trial: “He stated that I had no place in a society whose most fundamental rules I ignored” (102). Meursault is very isolated from his society, and during his trial all the odds are not in his favor because in this case Meursault is viewed as a minority when compared to the Arabs in Algeria.
Even the prosecutor claims that Meursault does not feel remorse about killing the Arab, and this connects to the theme of the meaninglessness of human life, where Meursault’s feelings towards this entire case is mutual and religion, life, and death does not matter to him. In reference to the title, we also pinpointed that Meursault acts as the stranger when placed in this society because he is disconnected and does not belong in this “normal” society, he is seen an outsider.
And, we concluded that the character conflicts are targeted towards man versus society and man versus self. Because it is clear that Meursault does what comforts him the most instead of pleasing others and bothering to care about what everyone thinks about him. A major cultural impact that is presented in this novel is the idea of religion and the role of the elderly. Based on the first chapter, we learn that Meursault puts his mother in an old people’s home, however, later we realize that the jury found this unacceptable. This gave Meursault a disadvantage against his murder case because in this society, it is morally wrong to put an elder relative in an elderly home.
Also during the seminar we mentioned how religion plays an important role in this society, especially when the lawyer, the judge, and the priest tries to persuade Meursault into turning to religion, however, he does not believe that God exists and the judge even calls him “Monsieur Antichrist” (71). When he refuses to believe in God, it connects to the idea that life is meaningless and God does not replace the absurd significance of human life. Overall I learned that there are many cultural obligations that Meursault conflicts with in The Stranger and with these pressures; he struggles to face his society.
An analysis of the symbolic significance of the motif of the sun in The Stranger
The powerful effect of light can cast a shadow and blind those who come across its path. Power, especially too much, can influence the behavior of others and it can deceive people especially those who are different and follow a strange path from everyone else. Meursault in The Stranger, for example, is known as an outcast due to his actions and beliefs of life. However, he is a victim of the overpowering impact of light, he loses his way and the shadow of light influences his actions. In his novel, The Stranger, Albert Camus creates an intense atmosphere through his use of the sun as a motif. He accomplishes this by using the sun as the personification of Meursault’s inner emotions, the powerful imagery of the murder scene, and Meursault’s internal conflict.
Throughout the novel, Camus uses the motif of the sun to construct the intensity of the atmosphere during part one of the novel. The sun plays a role in influencing Meursault’s feelings especially when the sun is described as unbearable on the day of Maman’s funeral: “But today, with the sun bearing down, making the whole landscape shimmer with heat, it was inhuman and oppressive” (15). Camus uses a pathetic fallacy in his description of the sun as “oppressive” and “inhuman.” This helps to illustrate the sun’s devilish characteristics as its powerful impact that allows Meursault to forget about Maman’s death. Also Meursault is known to be a very indifferent and unemotional character however, whenever the sun is opposing him, it affects his behavior and allows him to express his emotions about his surroundings; and this contributes to the intensity of atmosphere.
Another significant passage is when Meursault longs for shade and to be far away from the oppressive heat: “I was thinking of the cool spring behind the rock. I wanted to hear the murmur of its water again, to escape the sun and the strain…and to find shade at last” (57). This time the sun influences Meursault’s yearning desire to run away from the sun and this foreshadows Meursault’s desperate actions in killing the Arab. As the sun gets stronger, so does Meursault’s discomfort, and this reoccurring relationship symbolizes that the effect of the sun’s unbearable heat enhances Meursault’s desire to escape its penetrating control. In addition, the powerful strength of the sun returns and it contributes in building up to the climax of the novel: “It was this burning, which made me move forward” (59).
The effect of the sun compels Meursault in killing the Arab with no intentions or reasons influencing his sudden action when his anxiety is released as he pulls the trigger. Camus uses the heat and the glare of the sun as a tool to release Meursault’s repressed emotions. Despite Meursault’s indifference towards his wrong doings, his actions and emotions, which the sun has possessed over him, do not explain Meursault’s irrational intent to surprisingly shoot the Arab and this connects to a major theme of the irrationality of the universe, which deprives Meursault from acting reasonability. Furthermore, the author’s intentions in personifying the sun’s possessive effect over Meursault’s emotions and irrational motives are to convey an intense atmosphere and its power to influence Meursault actions.
Towards the end of part one of the novel, the author illustrates the build up to the murder scene through the use of vivid descriptions and kinesthetic and visual imagery of the blazing sun in order to portray an overall atmosphere of the intense portrayals of nature and weather. When Meursault prevents Raymond from starting a bloody war with the Arabs, Raymond gives him the gun and Meursault notices that “The sun glinted off Raymond’s gun as he handed it to me”(56). This excerpt foreshadows the significance of the sun and gun since both items are associated with murdering the Arab, and these two items initiate the murder. Camus briefly mentions the sun glinting off the gun as a way to illustrate their connection and importance in the death scene, also the author focuses on pinpointing details about the sun and its powerful effects in order to create an intense atmosphere by emphasizing the sun’s visual descriptions.
After the fight between Raymond and the Arab, Meursault takes a walk on the beach and he sees the Arab flashing his knife and this blinds Meursault as he illustrates that “The light shot off the steel and it was like a long flashing blade cutting at my forehead” (59). The author exemplifies the light intensity of the reflection of the blade to be blinding and painful through the use of both kinesthetic and visual imagery. This passage is significant in demonstrating the powerful effect of the sun and its strength in pushing Meursault to defy the limitations against nature. Even moments before Meursault pulls the trigger, tension begins to rise as if nature is pushing Meursault into killing the Arab: “The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky spilt open from one end to the other to rain down fire” (59). The use of diction such as “thick, fiery” evokes the intensity of visual imagery and the personification of the sun serves to enhance the sun’s powerful influence over Meursault’s mind and unconscious actions.
Perhaps nature is symbolically pressuring Meursault to murder the Arab and Camus surprisingly illustrates the time and setting of this scene in this way in order for it to come as a shock and therefore to support the concept of nature and its prevalent impact. Overall, the murder scene displays an intense illustration of Meursault’s surroundings through the use of kinesthetic and visual imagery of the sun’s power and control which helps develop a powerful environment. Particularly, the entire novel is based on the major conflict between Meursault and himself; this internal conflict portrays an intensive atmosphere that is represented through the influence of nature and weather, which is depicted throughout the novel. In the beginning of the novel, the nurse at Mamam’s funeral gives Meursault significant advice when she says, ““If you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke. But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church.” She was right. There was no way out” (17). The nurse’s advice symbolizes that Meursault’s self-conflict with the sun is unavoidable just as Meursault’s fate is inescapable; such as when he fails to find ways to escape from his death sentence.
The author decides to mention this passage to foreshadow Meursault’s unforeseen fate because Meursault’s murderous action is an unexpected plot twist, and this embodies nature’s powerful control over men, in which in this case it is between the sun and Meursault. Meursault’s battle with overcoming the heat of the sun is mainly demonstrated especially when tension is high such as when the group of Arabs is walking towards Meursault, Raymond, and Masson: “The sun was shining almost directly overhead onto the sand, and the glare on the water was unbearable” (52). As the scene begins to become more intense, the fight between Meursault and the weather becomes stronger as well, and this is demonstrated when Meursault describes his frustration from the sun’s intolerable heat. This excerpt clearly shows that Meursault’s constant war with his emotions and nature is powerful in connection with the intense atmosphere and since Meursault is unable to conquer the overpowering heat, it that causes him to kill the Arab and he gives in to the sun’s compelling control.
Also before Meursault’s trial, he even states that “I knew as soon as the weather turned hot that something new was in store for me” (82). Since Meursault did not know how much longer the judge would sentence him in prison, this passage did foreshadow that his trial would not turn out well. This again relates to the idea that when tension is high, the war between the sun’s heat and Meursault’s emotions is also intensified and Camus uses the motif of the sun to indicate that nature is against Meursault and to foreshadow Meursault’s fate. In conclusion, the influence of nature and weather as well as the motif of the sun and the role it plays to fight against Meursault’s internal emotions establishes an intensified setting.
Unfortunately, mankind is overpowered by nature and the force of the light pushes Meursault to his breaking point. Meursault is unaware of the sun’s
influential effect, however he is impacted by its controlling power. In the end, the sun’s strength forces Meursault to commit an immoral crime and even though his reasons are unintentional, he is rejected by society and is sentenced to a death penalty. The use of the motif of the sun in The Stranger by Albert Camus, develops a powerful atmosphere through the idea that the sun personifies Meursault by influencing his actions and feelings, the intense imagery of the murder scene, and Meursault’s inner conflict against the sun.
Camus, Albert, and Matthew Ward. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1989. Print.