“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.
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