Mortality in the Stranger by Albert Camus

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Everyone will die. Meursault’s awareness of death contributes to his nonchalant attitude toward every death he witness or must endure in The Stranger. Death fails to upset Meursault. In The Stranger, Albert Camus emphasizes mortality in order to expose the ignorance humanity has towards the inevitable or unknown end.

Camus’s emphasis on time accentuates Meursault’s indifference. This indifference reveals that death occurs inevitably, regardless of time. The first thought that the audience reads, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday,” immediately exhibits that when Maman died does not affect the fact that she did die (Camus 3). This assertion foreshadows Meursault’s acceptance of his own death sentence, merely because everyone dies at some point. In another instance, Meursault values his time. He organizes his mother’s funeral arrangements in a schedule that minimizes his time absent from work. He figures, “That way I can be there for the vigil and come back tomorrow night. I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that,” (Camus 3). Meursault focuses on the time that he takes off from his job instead of the recent death of his mother, exemplifying that one cannot gain back lost time, but can only spend the present wisely. Camus reinforces this allegation when Meursault recalls, “But according to him, the dog’s real sickness was old age, and there’s no cure for old age” (Camus 45). Again, lost time is never regained, no matter what one does to compensate. During this conversation between Meursault and Salamano, Meursault r...

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...greet me with cries of hate” (Camus 123). Meursault accepts his sentence with only the wish of a crowd at his execution, demonstrating that he would not relive his life to change it, that his life meets his idea of life, and that his life contains everything else that he desires. This hope mirrors that despite anything Meursault wishes, he will die and his life in the past cannot be changed. Meursault “escaped” the terror of death with his epiphany that no escape exists.

No alternative exists for death, nor does the time in which death occurs revoke that the death actually occurred. Death shocks mankind beyond reason. Man knows he will die eventually, but because the time that death wants man does not match when man wants death, death with surprise all.

Works Cited

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. New York: Vintage International,

1988.
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