Main Character In Camus' The Stranger

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

In Camus’ The Stranger, the main character, Meursault has established himself as an individual who works against the norms of society. He fails to understand the moral behavior required or the societal behaviors required to participate in the society in which he lives. He possesses an attitude that life has no meaning or purpose. It is this belief that creates his alienation from others.

As the novel opens Meursault is depicted as a person void of any emotional connection to himself or those around him. 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 (1). Meursault’s comments appear to place more emphasis on what day his mother died rather than on the fact that his mother has died. He continues to alienate himself from society with his lack of emotion over such a significant event, the death of his mother.  Meursault’s opinion of life and it’s meaningless is what alienates him from society. 

On page 114,  Meursault states, …it doesn’t matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living . This supports his belief that his life has no purpose because according to Meursault you die, but life goes on. Meursault’s inability to conform to society’s expectations is apparent when he and Marie speak of marriage. Marie asks Meursault if he loves her and he replied it didn’t mean anything  ( 35).

His continued use of phrases that imply it does not matter alienate him from society. His final anti-societal action, murdering the Arab man, clearly shows Meursault’s lack of conformity toward society and life in general. He has randomly taken another person’s life without purpose or remorse. The disconnect to what is acceptable societal behavior is truly missing from his behavior.  It is Meursault’s behavior that alienated him from the norms of society.

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