The first part of the novel begins with Meursault announcing his mother’s death: “Maman died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know” (3). This offensive idea that a man does not know and essentially does not care about when his mother passed away sets the ground for the rest of part one of The Stranger as Meursault develops into a character who lacks any positive emotions towards life. At his mother’s vigil, he drank coffee, and considered smoking a cigarette, but he did not know if he could build the courage with his mother’s corpse only a few meters away, but then, according to Meursault: “I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked” (8).
Meursault 's indifference is not just towards his mother, rather every other character that he interacts with, such as Marie. Despite the recent ...
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...ks about his mother’s teaching and how she “used to say that you can always find something to be happy about” (113). It is in desperate times like this where Meursault finds the need to express emotion, rationality, and empathy in his life.
In The Stranger, it is evident that, given his termination date, Meursault’s world view changes over the course of the novel. In the first half, Meursault is an apathetic, unemotional, and passive character who treats every day as a chore because he views life as meaningless. When the novel transitions to the second half and Meursault learns that he will soon die, he suddenly realizes that there is indeed a point in living, and he wishes for a pardon. Camus wants The Stranger to provoke societies of all generations to think about life and how it should be lived, as he presents his own mediation through the characters he created.
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