Right and Wrong in the Stranger by Albert Camus Essay example

Right and Wrong in the Stranger by Albert Camus Essay example

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In The Stranger, Albert Camus characterizes Meursault as a man who focuses on smaller aspects of his life rather than the big picture in order to create an inverted moral standard which makes Meursault an outsider in his own life. Meursault finds lying far more terrible than murder, yet he doesn’t judge people based on their previous actions. He helps a man commit an act of violence against a woman, and though he is an accomplice, he feels no guilt. However, Meursault pushes his emotions away, displacing them into a focus on smaller, more physical aspects of his life, such as noises and the weather.
At the beginning of the novel, Meursault never mourns the loss of mother; instead, he focuses on the smaller details in order to lessen the tragedy of Maman’s death. While Meursault is at his mother’s funeral, he never actually mentions any idea of missing his mother or grieving her. Even when he sees her casket, he doesn’t feel the normal emotions associated with seeing a dead loved one: “Varnished, glossy, and oblong, it reminded me of a pencil box” (Camus 14). By associating her casket with a pencil box, Meursault completely displaces any mourning for his mother away from his mind, instead bringing ideas of simple office supplies. Furthermore, the people around Meursault during the wake and funeral do not have any effect on him regarding the death of his mother. Maman’s friends who came to pay their respects only annoy Meursault: “Now it was all these people not making a sound was getting on my nerves” (11). Meursault doesn’t recognize that these people are being quiet to respect Maman’s memory. Additionally, Meursault doesn’t see Monsieur Pérez’s sadness for the loss of his best friend, rather, Meursault only sees him as “an awk...


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...ve your life.
By creating a man that goes against society’s idea of a “normal” moral standard, Albert Camus creates a man who was a complete stranger in his world. Most people in Meursault’s time and today have the idea that lying is bad, but it is better than dying as a consequence of one’s actions. However, Camus creates a man that is a complete foil to this idea, and Meursault is made an outsider due to his difference in moral standards, bringing up an idea of the exclusivity of society: does a society only accept those who believe in the same general moral standard as the society as a whole? Meursault lives as an opposite of society’s moral codes, and, because of this, is unable to fight a fair battle in court, ultimately losing his freedom and life.



Works Cited

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

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