Eyes in the Stranger by Albert Camus

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In The Stranger, Albert Camus personifies eyes as a source of knowledge. Characters come upon knowledge through many different sources from touch to hearing. The knowledge gained through eyes can range from, self discovery to understanding events taking place. Eyes and knowledge all seem to be related to Meursault. Meursault’s ability to understand events and circumstances depends on his clarity of vision. Unlike other characters, Meursault’s eyes do not provide knowledge, thus leaving characters misunderstanding him. Characters who have blue eyes help Meursault realize a truth about himself.

Unlike the other characters, Meursault’s eyes lack knowledge. In order to understand why Meursault killed the Arab or why he refused to convert to Christianity, characters continuously look him in the eyes in hope to find his reasoning. Even when Meursault answers them, they still are left doubting and asking more questions. For example the magistrate:

All of a sudden […] jerked his head up and looked [Muersault] in the eyes.

“Why,” he asked, “don’t you let me come to see you?”

[Muersault] explained that [he] didn’t believe in God.

“Are you really so sure of that?”

[Muersault] said [he] saw no point in troubling my head about the matter; whether [he] believed or didn’t was, to [his] mind, a question of so little importance.

Even though Meursault honestly answers the magistrate, and looks him straight in the eye, the magistrate still does not find any truth in Meursaults reply. The magistrate tries once again to see if he can get Meursault to confess.

When I said nothing, he looked at me again, and asked:

“Don’t you agree?”

I said that seemed quite possible. But, though I mightn’t be so sure about what interested me, I wa...

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...y only repented because they were criminals, “But then [he] realized that [he], too, came under that description. Somehow it was an idea to which [he] never could get reconciled” (44). Any of these truths would be hard to accept. No one enjoys realizing they are a guilty criminal everyone hates. However without the information or knowledge provided by these truthful blue eyed characters, Meursault would have never made these self discoveries.

In conclusion, all eyes in The Stranger always go back to Meursault, whether it’s his eyes or eyes of others Meursualt seems to gain the most knowledge from eyes, unfortunately characters cannot find the knowledge they seek within Meursault’s eyes. Therefore Albert Camus personifies eyes and or sight as a source of knowledge except for Meursault’s eyes.

Works Cited

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1942.
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