Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Parallels Within

Parallels Within The Stranger (The Outsider)

The Stranger by Albert Camus is a story of a sequence of events in one man's life that cause him to question the nature of the universe and his position in it. The book is written in two parts and each part seems to reflect in large degree the actions occurring in the other. There are curious parallels throughout the two parts that seem to indicate the emotional state of Meursault, the protagonist, and his view of the world.

Meursault is a fairly average individual who is distinctive more in his apathy and passive pessimism than in anything else. He rarely talks because he generally has nothing to say, and he does what is requested of him because he feels that resisting commands is more of a bother than it is worth. Meursault never did anything notable or distinctive in his life: a fact which makes the events of the book all the more intriguing.

Part I of The Stranger begins with Meursault's attendance at his mother's funeral. It ends with Meursault on the beach at Algiers killing a man. Part II is concerned with Meursault's trial for that same murder, his ultimate sentencing to death and the mental anguish that he experiences as a result of this sentence. Several curious parallels emerge here, especially with regard to Meursault's perception of the world.

In Part I, Meursault is spending the night next to his mother's coffin at a sort of pre-funeral vigil. With him are several old people who were friends of his mother at the home in which she had been living at the time of her death. Meursault has the strange feeling that he can see all of their faces really clearly, that he can observe every detail of their clothing and that they will be indelibly impr...

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...r has not done makes no essential difference at the end. The nurse at the funeral tells him, "if you walk too slowly, you'll get heat exhaustion, but if you walk too fast, then the cool air in church will give you a chill.” As he kills the Arab, he thinks, "Whether I fire or don't fire is irrelevant; the ending will be the same.” And at the trial, Meursault tells the prosecutor, "I have lived my life thus and did x, but if I had done y or z instead, it wouldn't have mattered.” And, ultimately, Meursault turns out to be correct; he discovers that when death approaches, all men are equal, no matter what their ages or previous lives. Meursault views death as an escape: you can't escape from it, but you can escape into it, and he prepares himself to do so, bit by bit. Each parellel incident is just one more winding round of the rope that will bind him completely.
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