Albert Camus' The Stranger is a startling novel at worst and a haunting classic at best. Camus presents a thrilling story of a man devoid of emotion, even regarding the most sensitive, personal matters. The main character, Meursault shows no feelings after the death of his mother, during his romantic relationship with Marie, or during his trial for the murder of an Arab. Meursault never shows feelings of love, regret, remorse, or sadness. It takes a great amount of skill to portray such a seemingly inhuman character as someone who is complex and multi-faceted like Meursault is.
Camus shows a definite sense of audience in this book. His language and phrasing shows that he has aimed the book towards an older crowd, one that would understand the message he wants to portray. Even when the language is written in a simple tone, it still seems aimed at an older audience:
Fumbling a little with my words and realizing how ridiculous I sounded, I blurted out that it was because of the sun. People laughed. My lawyer threw up his hands, and immediately after that he was given the floor (103).
The subject matter itself is certainly aimed towards an adult audience. Some topics include sex, murder, death of a family member, and domestic abuse. Religion, or lack thereof, is a topic heavily discussed during Meursault's trial for murder. Meursault is a self-professed atheist, and there are numerous conversations between the main character and others he interacts with on this topic.
The author is an important part of The Stranger. Camus developed his theory of the absurd - the idea that life has no rational meaning - during World War II. ...
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... Compare sentences from the first half of the novel to the second half:
"As soon as he saw me, he sat up a little and put his hand in his pocket" (58).
"Especially when the emptiness of a man's heart becomes, as we find it has in this man, an abyss threatening to swallow up society" (101).
The first sentence has less detail and feeling to it; the second example seems to have more emotion and feeling in its structure
In conclusion, all of these elements help to make The Stranger a classic tale of murder and the absurd. Camus' treatment of Meursault's tormented world, where everything makes sense to only him is an ingenious way of looking at the sheer monotony and almost redundant tendencies of life in general.
Camus, Albert. The Stranger, trans. Mathew Ward. New York: Random House, Inc., 1988.
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