The Stranger: Changes in Meursault Essay

The Stranger: Changes in Meursault Essay

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In The Stranger, Albert Camus describes the life of the protagonist, Meursault, through life changing events. The passage chosen illustrates Meursault’s view during his time in prison for killing the Arab. In prison, one can see the shifts in Meursault’s character and the acceptance of this new lifestyle. Camus manipulates diction to indicate the changes in Meursault caused by time thinking of memories in prison and realization of his pointless life. Because Camus published this book at the beginning of World War II, people at this time period also questions life and death similar to how Meursault does.
Diction shows the difference in Meursault’s views and beliefs as he spends more and more time in prison, adapts to his new lifestyle, and understands the future of his life. Camus diction displays Meursault’s change toward growth in self-reflection, realization of the purposelessness of his life, and unimportance of time.
In the passage, Camus utilizes negative connotation of Meursault’s growth in self-reflection to demonstrate his recognition of himself. When Meursault claims, “I looked at myself in my tin plate. My reflection seemed to remain serious even though I was trying to smile at it” he attempts to understand and observe himself which shows his growth in self reflection (Camus 81). Contrasting to when he looks into the mirror a few days after his mother funeral, he looks at the furniture in his room instead at himself, “I glanced at the mirror and saw a corner of my table with my alcohol lamp next to some pieces of bread” (24). Before sent to prison, Meursault gave more importance to things physically going around him rather then paying attention to himself. Now, as he looks at himself he saw “the same sad, stern ex...

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...iod when Camus writes this novel. Camus obviously knew the time period and explored different ideas and philosophies about pointless of life in people which comes out in his character, Meursault. In prison Meursualt also realizes that he’s trapped, and there’s no way out as he remembers what the nurse once said to him. His growth in self reflection results in unimportance of emotional values of life and help focus what’s directly ahead of him. This significant change results him in understanding himself and his voice, and figuring out his capabilities and philosophies. Time spent in prison helps Meursault finally understands himself, the meaninglessness of life, and the unimportance of time which shows the shift in the character after sent to prison.

Works Cited

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


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