The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

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Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, Meursault the main character, narrates in the first person and thus, his perceptions are limited. The description of the other characters is entirely subjective, that is, he does not attempt to understand their thoughts and feelings. Meursault is detached from society which makes his descriptions of things going on around him removed. He also refuses to adhere to the accepted moral order of society and thus, society brands him an outsider. The internal world of his thoughts and the external world of he lives in both don’t retain any order. Events that usually have a lot of meaning to people, such as marriage proposals and death in the family, don’t seem to matter to Meursault, at least not emotionally. However, through Camus’s use of a first person narrative, we start to see and comprehend that Meursault is not immoral, but indifferent. He is a symbol of the universe, and the universe is seen as a place of moderate indifference.
Meursault is completely estranged from societal norms like set plans, ambitions, desires, love, and emotions in general. The reader sees the nature of his personality in the first few lines of the novel: “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” (Pg. 3). These lines introduce Meursault’s emotional indifference, one of the most important traits he shows us throughout the novel. Meursault does not express any sorrow upon learning of his mother’s death; he just took the news in and processed it without showing any emotion. Her death made no real impact on his life other than momentarily disturbing his daily lifestyle by taki...


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... indifference to things that happen and his own indifference bond Meursault and the universe. He even labels the world as “a brother”, unlike in the beginning, when Meursault was passively content. Now, at the end, Meursault finds that he is happy once he sees the reality in the human existence. Meursault also sees that he is happy where he is in society. He doesn’t mind being hated for his crime. He accepts that companionship will keep him from feeling alone, and he accepts that the companionship will be in the form of an angry mob on the day of his execution.

However, he changes throughout the trial and eventually becomes a hero. This is because he finds meaning in life. It is ironic, though; that he learns to appreciate life after his is effectively over.

Work Cited

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

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