The Controversy Between Meursault’s Reaction And How Society Expects Us To React In The Stranger By Albert Camus

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where anyone class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degradethem, neither persons nor property will be safe. ” In these few words, Frederick Douglas sdescribes how society expects us react to our daily challenges. However, in the novel “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, the author presents to the readers a character, Meursault, who contradicts all principles imposed by society through an existentialist philosophy. However, this existentialist view succeeds at keeping suspense at its peak as it presents to the readers a controversy that baffles all human expectations. The development of events and the absurd decisions taken by the character captivates the reader’s attention and help developing questions like how does society expects us to react when in Meursault’s situation and why? And what technique does Camus effectively uses to develop this literary enterprise. The following lines shall attempt to effectively answer the above questions. 

Through the first sentence, “Mother died today, or maybe yesterday, I can’t be sure” Camus introduces Meursault and his philosophy, existentialism as he presents a man who does notlayout any emotion for the disappearance of his mum. His tone is “dry”, a simple sentence with normal and non-expressive words for the disappearance of a figure which should normally be a model for our society. By so doing, Camus indirectly allows the readers to condemn Meursault and have a primary idea about his character that shall stay at the back ofour (readers) mind from the beginning to the end. As … says, society expects us to offer moreemotions and importance to our family and in this case, to the loss an important member ofthis building base of the society. Again things get worst when Meursault says «then I wanteda cigarette. But I wasn’t sure if I should smoke, under the circumstances — in Mother’s presence. I thought it over; really, it didn’t seem to matter, so I offered the keeper acigarette, and we both smoked». By smoking in the room with his mum’s corpse, Meursault once more sins against society. Pope John xxiii says that ‘The family is the first essential cellof human society’ and in it is the mother, its foundation. According to society, this actionstains the memory of the later, and is a sign of disrespect towards elders. Rather, society expects us to follow the norms of politeness and respect by either mourning or depriving ourselves from something we are used to do or have. From this actions, society condemns Meursault once more for not abiding to principles established by its elite. 

Some lines further, Camus presents Society’s point of view and judgment through Meursault when he says « …solemnly eying me and dandling their heads from side to side. For amoment I had an absurd impression that they had come to sit in judgment on me. » Followingthe entry of the other members of the old house, Meursault feels judged by their different gestures. For any individuals who conforms the norms of the society, it is abnormal peoplesmoking or drinking on a mourning place. Meursault’s lack of constant visits equally influences the reaction of the pther member of the old house. 

After getting back to town Meursault gets back quite easily to his daily routines and oncemore sins against society. This happens when he meets Raymond and with no reason consciously decides to help him write a letter to his concubine despite being aware of Raymond’s malicious plans. “he asked me if I’d mind doing it right away, and I said, “No, ”I’d have a shot at it. ” In these few words, Meursault is judged by society not because of thepart he plays in this evil trick but because of the lack of motivation he expresses; to an extent, society would have preferred if he had specific motivation but no, he solely does this for“doing sake”. Once more he defies societal norms because according to a major part of it, thebases of our actions arise from our motivations. Society would have preferred if he had donethat because he had been convinced by Raymond’s story or for what Raymond dubs as “Male dominance” when he remarked that “men always understood each other”. It might seem as ifthese words convinced the protagonist but they do not, because when Raymond later asks himto serve him as a “false” witness, he openly expresses his insane neutrality and lack of interestwhen he utters the phrase “I had no objection; only I didn’t know what he expected meto say” with both zero enthusiasm and repulsiveness. Some lines further, Camus does something that completely destroys the little logic that hadbeen induced in the reader’s mind when Marie asks him whether he would marry her andwhen he says “I didn’t mind; if she was keen on it, we’d get married. ” Both the question andthe answer are dumb sounding; Its abnormal for our society for a woman to be the one asking a man for marriage and for people to get married without emotions, without love, just toplease the other partner. By describing the intimate and sensual attraction between Marie and Meursault, Camus builds this preconceived love relationship in the reader’s mind that he thendestroys and replaces with a distraction and “convenience” practice for Meursault. 

Meursault’s actions are constantly and indirectly judged by the member of the society throughout the text. It begins with the member of the old house, followed by his boss when heasks him to “change his life” and finally by the magistrate when he tells him that he believesin God and that he wanted him to “repent”. Despite these several attempts, Meursault still remains indifferent to the critics he faces and by so doing, Camus presents to society a manwith an admiratory faithfulness to his principles. Personally, I believe that Camus wants to use Meursault consistency to present the hidden of human beings who despite their complete awareness of the obscene actions they undertake-corruption, murder- still remain faithful tothem for basically no particular reason. This could be justified by Meursault continuous loyalty to his principles. Despite all the attempts from the magistrate and his lawyer to“corrupt” him and change but he does not, he is just in a certain way and remains faithful to himself. 

Although many critics would describe Albert Camus’ The Stranger as a bizarre compilation ofevents which seem to lack coherence, the novel is actually a refreshing attempt to place a philosophical idea into action -the action of everyday living. Camus creates a situation with which all of his readers can identify: a character with a banal job, who occupies his time in hisapartment and at a local cafe. Friends come, visit, and leave. Sleep ensues after dining. Thenext day, the character works again, dines again, and sleeps. Simplistically, this description outlines a common human being’s everyday life, but amidst the ordinary living, humans tendto fill their days with purpose, goals, and significance. However, in The stranger, Albert Camus attempts to portray a being who fills his days with common diversions while obliterating all meaning and significance of every activity. Camus’ character does not willfully choose to exclude meaning and purpose in his actions, because purpose and meaningare alien to him. He does not know why he does something or what is the significance of hisactions’ ramifications. He does not even entertain feelings or ideas that most people enjoy. This protagonist subscribes wholly to the notion of the Absurd. 


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