Essay on Meursault’s Subconscious Mind in Albert Camus’ The Stranger

Essay on Meursault’s Subconscious Mind in Albert Camus’ The Stranger

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In Part One of The Stranger, Albert Camus avoids religious confrontations with Meursault in order to subconsciously place blame on Christ for his criminal actions. Camus restricts Meursault’s relationships to further distance him from his mother. Meursault then alienates himself from the typical spiritual ceremonies and actions to demonstrate his distrust of religion. Simultaneously, Camus uses diction of clear and bright elements to characterize people in the novel, excluding Meursault. Camus associates dark colors with Meursault to depict a sadistic persona. To conclude, Camus places Meursault in recurring situations which result in him being distracted by “the light”. Camus uses these literary techniques in The Stranger to demonstrate man’s condemnation of God.
Meursault’s actions throughout the novel lead to his regretless murder. Meursault surrounds himself around people of no spiritual faith to withdrawal himself from his mother and God. Reserved Meursault interacts with his neighbor Salamano on various occasions and observes him walking his dog everyday, repeatedly swearing at it. Meursault observes as Salamano yanks the dog while screaming, “’Filthy, stinking bastard!’” (Camus 27). This interaction illustrates the revolting and monstrous characteristics of Salamano through the eyes of society. Instead of cringing in repulsion as expected of most ordinary people, when Raymond “’asked me (Meursault) didn’t I think it was disgusting’” (Camus 28), Meursault replied no. Meursault’s response implies his lack of sentiment and places him in the same category as Salamano.
Not only does Meursault associate himself with abusive Salamano, but also unpopular neighbor Raymond Sintes. The neighborhood views Raymond as a man who “lives...


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... his mother and the idea of God which is again supported by his close relationships. Those relationships are with people who don’t believe in a higher being or who show no true morals. Camus accommodates white with many objects and people, yet purposely excludes Meursault and refers to him as dark. All of these techniques show Meursault as a nonreligious man with potential to harm without remorse. This leads up to his interaction with light where he feels uncomfortable just as he does with God. Meursault’s history and personality lead up to the murder of the Arab, the distraction of the light, and in the end, accusing God, “the light”, for his criminal behavior. Human nature needs moral standards or the world would be as corrupt as Meursault’s life.





Works Cited

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. New York: Vintage International, 1988.

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