The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger by Albert Camus

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In The Stranger, Albert Camus portrays Meursault, the book's narrator and main character, detached, and unemotional. He does not think much about events or their consequences, or does he express much feeling in relationships or during emotional times. He displays emotionless throughout the book in his reactions to the people and events in the book. After his mother's death he sheds no tears he seems to show no emotion. He displays limited feelings for his girlfriend, Marie Cardona, and shows no remorse at all for killing an Arab. His reactions to life and to people distances him from his emotions, positive or negative, and from intimate relationships with others and that is why he is called by the book's title, "the stranger". While this behavior can be seen as a negative trait, there is a young woman who seems to want to have a relationship with Meursault and a neighbor who wants friendship. He seems to show no emotion, possibly protected from pain by not showing him-self to people.
Meursault rarely shows any feeling when in situations which would, for most people, bring out strong emotions. Throughout the vigil, watching over his mother's dead body, and at her funeral, he never cries. He is, further, shown enjoying a cup of coffee with milk and having a smoke with a caretaker standing over her dead body, "Than he offered to bring me a cup of coffee with milk. I like milk in my coffee, so I said yes, and he came back a few minutes with a tray. I drank the coffee than I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated, because I didn't know if I could with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn't matter"(pg.8). The following day, after his mother's funeral, he goes to the beach and meets a former friend named Marie Cardona. They swim, go to a movie, and then spend the night together. Later in their relationship, Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her. "That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said I didn't make any difference to me and we could if she wanted to.

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Than she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't love her"(pg.41). This reaction is fairly typical of Meursault as portrayed in the book. He appears to be casual and indifferent about life events. Nothing seems to be very significant to him. Later on in the book, after he kills an Arab, not once does he show any remorse or guilt for what he did. Did he really feel nothing? Camus seems to indicate that Meursault is almost oblivious and totally unruffled and untouched by events and people around him. He is unwilling to lie, during his trial, about killing the Arab. He does nothing to get involved in defending himself results in a verdict of death by guillotine. Had Meursault been engaged in his defense, explaining his actions, he might have been set free.
Sometimes a person like Meursault can be appealing to others because he is so non-judgmental and uncritical, probably a result of lack of concern rather than sympathetic feelings. His limited involvement might attract some people because an end result of his distance is sort of acceptance of others, thus he is not a threat to their egos. Raymond Sintes, a neighbor who is a pimp, seems to feel comfortable with Meursault. Sintes does not have to justify himself because Meursault doesn't comment on how Sintes makes money or how he chooses to live his life. Even though Meursault shows no strong emotions or deep affection, Marie, his girlfriend, is still attracted and interested in him. She is aware of, possibly even fascinated by, his indifference. Despite the seemingly negative qualities of this unemotional man, people nevertheless seem to care for him.
There are individuals who, because of different or strange behavior, might be outcasts of society, but find, in spite of or because of their unconventional behavior, that there are some people who want to be a part of their lives. Meursault distantes him-self from people, yet it does not get in the way of certain relationships. While there are some people who might find such relationships unsatisfying and limited, Meursault and those he is connected to seem to be content with their "friendships". His reserved self, may not have saved him from suffering. It might actually have been the cause of the guilty verdict at his trial for killing the Arab. Withdrawing from people or life events might not mean total isolation or rejection but it does not necessarily protect an individual from pain or a bad end.
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