Free College Essays - The Motif of the Sun in The Stranger by Albert Camus

Free College Essays - The Motif of the Sun in The Stranger by Albert Camus

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The Motif of the Sun in The Stranger


In Camus' novel The Stranger the predominate motif of the sun has been variously interpreted by many critics as a symbol of Meursault's repressed emotions.

This is an interpretation I simply cannot accept, for I have always regarded the sun as symbolic of the superego - the force of society within Meursault.

Like the sun, society is generally thought to be a positive thing. People usually regard a good strong society that instills its members with a strong, unified code of morals as something to be desired. In the same way, people tend to think of a bright, warm, sunny day as something good and positive.

However, both the force of society and theforce of the sun can become overpowering. They beat down on people, smothering and suffocating them, just as the sun beats down upon Meursault throughout the novel. The sun is present whenever the force of society is strong within Meursault. At the funeral the sun bears down on Meursault as society smothers him with expectations that he will grieve his mother's death in a typical manner. At the beach when he kills the Arab the sun is ever present and overpowering, making Meursault disoriented and confused.

In the same way the power of society suffocates and confuses Meursault as it bears down on him with its views on morality. The sun is also present at the trial, just as is the force of society which claims to possess the right to judge people. The force of society is absent in the prison, likewise the sun is absent from Meursault's dark cell, and because the overpowering force of society has been removed, Meursault is finally able to "[open himself] to the gentle indifference of the world."

At one point Meursault leans from the window in an attempt to feel the sun's last

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123helpme.com/search.asp?text=rays">rays at evening. This represents how Meursault has come to terms with the force of society within him. He feels free to bask in the rays of the sun that once smothered him.

In the same way, at the novel's end he feels free to bask in the society that hates him, and his final hope is that "there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet [him] with cries of hate."
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