Maman’s Funeral Characterises Meursault And the World of The Stranger

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In the experimental novel The Stranger by Albert Camus, he explores the concept of existentialism and the idea that humans are born into nothing and descend into nothingness after death. The novel takes place in the French colony of Algiers where the French-Algerians working-class colonists live in an urban setting where simple life pleasures are of the upmost importance in the lives of working class people like the protagonist of the novel Meursault. What is fascinating about this novel is that it opens up with a scene of perpetual misfortune for him through the death of his mother although he seems to express otherwise. The reader perceives this nonchalance as a lack of care. Maman’s death and its impact on Meursault appear in both the very beginning and very end of the two-part novel, suggesting a cyclical pattern in the structure. This cyclical pattern suggests not a change in the moral beliefs of Meursault but rather his registering society’s systems and beliefs and craft meaning in his own life despite the fact that he meets his demise in the end. Camus uses Maman’s funeral to characterise both Meursault and the society and customs created by the society Meursault lives in in order to contrast the two while at the same time reveal how while society changes, Meursault does not. Rather, Maman’s funeral becomes of unprecedented importance in Meursault’s life and allows him to find that nothing means anything in his meaningless world at the time of his death. He finds peace in that. Camus starts the beginning of his novel by stating the death of the narrator’s mother through a first person point of view. Meursault, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, begins by contemplating the day of his mother’s death and is unable t... ... middle of paper ... ...ough Maman’s funeral and the impact of Maman’s death on Meursault. In the first chapter, Meursault is disconnected from the world around him; only responding to the social customs set in place and showing awareness in why they should be followed, but he does not understand why that is the case. In the last chapter, the inevitable arrival of Meursault’s own death makes him aware that the life he lived meant nothing because things would be the same at the end despite what choies he made. This acceptance is reached because Meursault was guided through death. Thus, Maman’s funeral links Meursault and Maman together as two individuals who accept their despair-filled truth but demonstrate the willingness to live again because they carry that acceptance with them. Works Cited amus, Albert, and Matthew Ward. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1989. Print.

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