Analysis of Camus' The Outsider

Analysis of Camus' The Outsider

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In the essay "Camus' The Outsider," Jean-Paul Sartre explains that Camus' book is more of an 'experience of the absurd' for readers than a 'novel' because it uses literary approaches to identify and clarify the absurdity of life. He then defines the absurd, people's reaction to it, and the narrative technique Camus uses.

According to Jean Sartre, the absurd is both a 'state of fact' and what people obtain from this 'state of fact'. He is also the man who does not hesistate to draw the inevitable conclusions from a fundamental absurdity.The writer shows us that Meursault, the protagonist, is rather absurd because unlike any other rational person, he does not regret his mother's death and instead of mourning he goes to watch a comedy movie and befriends Marie and goes on living as if nothing has happened. In addition, Mearsault is also happy after killing the Arab and after going to jail which made people further believe he is a "poor fool", but on the other hand people with a greater insight say, "He's innocent." He believes that God does not exist, and therefore life is meaningless. Thus life is absurd and additionally Meursault's connections and his relationships with human beings becomes absurd. Meursault's absurd behaviour shocks people because he does not do what he is expected to do, but detaches himself from reality and goes against social conventions and disobeys social code. For example, he did not cry on his mother's death although people are expecting him to behave differently in such a situation.

The word absurd describes humanity's attempt to find rational order were none exist. Camus however, does not explicitly refer to the notion of absurdity, but absurdity operates within the novel. The Outsider is momentary and unjustifiable since Camus never explains but describes, and does not include any justifications. Meursault never has any reasons for his actions, such as his decision to marry Marie or kill the Arab. Society struggles to find rational explanations to Meursault's irrational actions. Yet Meaursault is known for his reluctance to indulge in words, leaving the readers unable to judge nor comprehend the protagonist.

The absurd man is meant to reject everything he is not certain of. He will not want to die but becomes more willing to live in the present since everything is lawful because there is no God. Camus also focuses on the significance of the physical aspects of life and shows how Meursault is not interested in the social and emotional aspects.

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For example, Camus emphasizes Meursault's physical relationship with Marie showing us how Meursault barely cares about Marie. Camus also stresses about the weather and the heat of the sun where it seems more disturbing in the funeral than the burying itself. This is concluded from the novel's theme where Camus tries to make the reader feel that there is no meaning or order in life. Absurdiness is the major aspect, where Camus tries to show the reader that there is no logic to a lot of actions taken in life. Camus wants to show the reader the impossibility of escaping society.

Meursault is a stranger to society, to himself, and to life. Therefore, the hero is emotionally detached from his surroundings. He seems selfish although sometimes does not even care about his own self interest. Camus is unable to express this but he is able to impress it. In displaying Meursault's indifference, Camus implicitly challenges society's moral standards. Society counts Meursault an outsider because he does not grieve. He is not moral or immoral, Meursault is amoral as he does not know what is right and what is wrong because he is irresponsible and careless. For example, when Raymond asks him to write a letter and he agrees Which shows how his actions are random and not justifiable. The most apparent example in this case would be when Mearsault killed the Arab where he does it for absolutely no reason and does not try to create one either in addition to that he commits a crime but does not feel remorse . Also how Raymond asks him to write a letter and he agrees, Raymond obviously uses Meursault especially the time when the incident occurs where Raymond givesMeursault the gun where it was so obvious he wants him to kill.Therefore, if people ignore the essential tools in life such as religion which Camus believes to be misleading, they they would deduce the fact that life is absurd. Further on, Camus says that because people have difficulty accepting that life is absurd, they try to create a rational meaning in their lives.

While a feeling and a notion are closely interwined, The Outsider tries to diffrentiate between them. Feelings are more direct, since they are often subconsciously experienced even before spoken words can be articulated. On the other hand, a notion is more of a representaion of expression; it is the human means of expressing a feeling and/or experience. Camus uses alot of short sentences which is similar to Hemingway's writing technique. Each short sentence conveys strength and the way each one is told allows it to stand by itself so that the reader pictures the moment-to-moment lifestyle of the absurd narrarator. Discontinuity between sentences and phrases in the novel represents the absurd way of thought and way of life Camus is referring to. Each sentence is a point in the present, and is not related to the sentence before it or after it. Moreover, he does not provide insignificant details which strengthens the sentence structure and removes any form of informality in the novel.

In this essay, Sartre clarifies that The Outsider cannot be described as a story because it lacks explanations and should not be called a novel as it does not relate the apparent existence of the irreversibilty of time, so it is for readers an 'experience of the absurd' and stands on its own merits, not trying to prove anything. He just explains what he knows about the absurd and how people do ont want to accept this truth and how meursault doesnot care about this state of fact.

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