The Absurd Morality of Death in The Outsider

Powerful Essays
The Absurd Morality of Death in The Outsider

In The Outsider by Albert Camus, death can clearly be seen as a

significant image - there being six deaths mentioned in total. In Part

One we are shown the natural death of Meursault's mother and

Meursault's murder of the Arab, and in Part Two we are presented with

the parricide of a brother/son and the subsequent suicide of the

perpetrators, another parricide that is to be tried after Meursault's

case and the death penalty pronounced on Meursault. Through these

depictions of various deaths, Camus shows clearly the conflicting and

often arbitrary treatment of death within society, a treatment that

reveals a confusion between the motives behind acts and the subsequent

response to the completed acts, which ultimately reflects the nature

of the absurd prevalent in the novel.

Section One: deaths directly linked to Meursault

Mrs Meursault's Funeral

Death, as an important image, is established in the very first

sentence of the book, "Mother died today."[1] The simplicity and

directness of this statement is shocking for the reader, and leads us

to try to understand what sort of man Meursault is - a task that we

discover later has been laid as a trap for us. However, even though

this first sentence is simple and direct, it is confused in the very

next sentence, "Or maybe yesterday, I don't know."[2] This confusion

over the time of the death can be generalised to the circumstances of

the death, which are in this case unclear, and indeed we are never

told what the cause of Mrs Meursault's death was. All we have are the

allusions to her age, "About sixty,"[3] and her 'friend', who was "an

old man"[4] that could not prevent himself from "fainting (like a


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...t, The Outsider (Penguin Classics), p60.

[13] Ibid. P69.

[14] Ibid. P63.

[15] Ibid. P64.

[16] Ibid. P85.

[17] Ibid. P85.

[18] Ibid. P57.

[19] Ibid. P58.

[20] Ibid. P58.

[21] Ibid. P60

[22] Camus, Albert, The Outsider (Penguin Classics, 2000), p64

[23] Ibid. P68.

[24] Ibid. P98.

[25] Ibid. P99.

[26] Ibid. P116

[27] Ibid. P103.

[28] Camus, Albert, The Outsider (Penguin Classics, 2000), p104.

[29] Ibid. P109.

[30] Ibid. P109.

[31] Ibid. P114.

[32] Ibid. P112.

[33] Ibid. P115.

[34] Ibid. P117.

[35] Ibid. P117.

[36] Camus, Albert, The Outsider (Penguin Classics, 2000), p77.

[37] Ibid. P78.

[38] Camus, Albert, The Outsider (Penguin Classics, 2000), p 78.

[39] Ibid. P78

[40] Ibid. P82.

[41] Ibid. P82.

[42] Ibid. P102.

[43] Camus, Albert, The Outsider (Penguin Classics, 2000), p116.
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