The Unemotional Meursault in The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Unemotional Meursault in The Stranger by Albert Camus

Length: 682 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Unemotional Meursault in Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)  


In Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger, the protagonist Meursault is a character who has definite values and opinions concerning the society in which he lives.  His self-inflicted alienation from society and all its habits and customs is clear throughout the book.  The novel itself is an exercise in absurdity that challenges the reader to face the nagging questions concerning the meaning of human existence. Meursault is an existentialist character who views his life in an unemotional and noncommittal manner, which enhances his obvious opinion that in the end life is utterly meaningless. 

 The novel opens with Meursault having just learned that his mother has died.  His reaction to her death is far from typical, and he simply says, “Maman died today, or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.”  As he prepares to leave town to attend the funeral, he expresses a sort of general discomfort.  This discomfort can be seen in his extremely uncomfortable conversation with his boss, in which Meursault simply tells his boss, “it’s not my fault.”  Meursault also wishes that the funeral were already over so that, “the case would be closed, and everything will have a more official feel to it.” 

 On the way to the funeral Meursault is greatly affected by the sounds and smells of the bus and sleeps the whole way to escape his physical discomfort.  When he arrives at the home the caretaker asks him if he would like to see his mother one last time before the casket is closed and he declines.  Sitting down near the casket, his attention is focused not on his mother, but rather on his own physical discomfort and the “two hornets buzzing against the glass roof.”  After listening listlessly to the caretaker’s endless stream of chatter, Meursault drinks a cup of coffee and smokes a cigarette.  Meursault, never shedding a single tear, keeps an all-night vigil at the casket, surrounded by his mother’s sobbing friends.  He seems to regard the whole night as somewhat pointless, and comes away feeling very tired. 

 On the day of the funeral Meursault immediately notices details such as, “the screws on the casket had been tightened and that there were four men wearing black in the room.”  Throughout the day he does not display any signs of grief, and hardly seems to pay any attention to the fact that he is at his own mother’s funeral.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Unemotional Meursault in The Stranger by Albert Camus." 14 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay example

- 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....   [tags: Camus Albert Stranger]

Free Essays
797 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Mersault's Control Over his Actions in The Stranger

- Dialogue is simple throughout part one of The Stranger. Camus does not provide direct explanations for Meursaults actions and response to events. Instead the reader can find an unusual emphasis on the setting and physical aspects of events and characters in part one. Meursault has complete control and conscious awareness of his indifference towards social situations. It is Meursaults underlying radical attitude towards authority and social norms that provide for his dissent behavior. In order to prove that Meursault is free to act as he does, his inability to grieve over the death of his mother should not be accepted....   [tags: the stranger]

Research Papers
708 words (2 pages)

The Hero in The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- The Hero in Camus’s The Stranger (The Outsider) Certain novels include a character who, based solely on his actions, would appear to be evil, but in an in-depth examination, can be seen in a different, more sympathetic light. The character Meursault, in Albert Camus’s The Stranger, is notable for this description. While his murderous crime and indifference to emotions make him seem to be cretinous, his dramatic transformation at the end of the story make us feel for him. When he finally grasps the theme of the book, embracing the “gentle indifference” of the universe, he also grabs our hearts, in becoming an “absurd” hero....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Research Papers
772 words (2.2 pages)

Is Meursault Heroic in Albert Camus' The Stranger? Essays

- Is Meursault Heroic in The Outsider.     When Meursault is described to us in the early stages of "The Outsider" we see that he does not obey society's codes therefore is it fair for us to assess him using societies interpretation of "heroic".   If we are to judge him by them then we are given ample examples throughout the novel of his having no compassion or even of his thinking of the consequences of his actions, hardly heroic, but the converse is also demonstrated in many places.  An example of the former is when Raymond asks Meursault to "draft" a letter to an Arab prostitute.  Meursault knows what will result from his actions but seems unemotional and views the let...   [tags: Albert Camus, The Outsider]

Research Papers
1559 words (4.5 pages)

The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- The Stranger by Albert Camus The book that I read was called The Stranger written by Albert Camus. The book is globally famous and was translated to many different languages and texts. The original was called L’Étranger which was written in French in 1942. The plot of this story involved a man in his late twenties or early thirties. The man's name is Meursault. In the beginning of the novel, Meursault is notified that his mother had passed away in the nursing home that he occupied her to. Meursault’s income could not afford to take care of his mother any longer; therefore, he put her in a nursing home....   [tags: Book Report Camus Stranger]

Free Essays
1538 words (4.4 pages)

Motif of Violence in The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay

- Motif of Violence in Camus' The Stranger (The Outsider) The Stranger written by Albert Camus is an absurdist novel revolving around the protagonist, Meursault. A major motif in the novel is violence. There are various places where violence takes place and they lead to the major violent act, which relates directly to the theme of the book. The major violent act of killing an Arab committed by Meursault leads to the complete metamorphosis of his character and he realizes the absurdity of life....   [tags: The Stranger The Outsider]

Free Essays
730 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): The Gentle Meursault

- The Gentle Meursault of Camus’s The Stranger (The Outsider) In Albert Camus’s The Stranger, Meursault, the protagonist, could be seen as immoral if he were judged on the basis of his actions alone. However, through Camus’s use of a first person narrative, we begin to understand Meursault as not an immoral man, but simply an indifferent one. Meursault is a symbol of the universe, and so in understanding him we understand that the universe is also not evil, but instead a place of gentle indifference....   [tags: Camus Stranger Essays]

Free Essays
688 words (2 pages)

The Stranger Written By Albert Camus Essay

- The book that I was assigned to read is called The Stranger written by Albert Camus. The plot of this story involved a man in his late twenties or early thirties. The main character in the book is Meursault. In the beginning of the novel, Meursault is notified that his mother had passed away in the nursing home that shelived in. Meursault’s could not afford to take care of his mother any longer; therefore, he put her in a nursing home. Meursault took off of work and went to the nursing home where she passed away to pay his respects and attend the funeral ceremonies....   [tags: Psychology, Emotion, Love, Feeling]

Research Papers
843 words (2.4 pages)

Is there truly any justice in the novel The Stranger, written by Albert

- Is there truly any justice in the novel The Stranger, written by Albert Camus. Is there truly any justice in the novel The Stranger, written by Albert Camus. This is a question that naturally protrudes throughout the novel, as it is not abundantly clear what Meursault, the protagonist, was, in fact, put on trial for. At the beginning of the second part of the narrative, it is understood that he is put on trial for the murder of an Arab; however, it later comes to our attention that the murder was not the primary reason of his trial, and perhaps not even an essential one for that matter....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
913 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on The Anti-Christ in Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)

- The Anti-Christ in The Outsider   “Meursault is punished, not for his crime of killing another human being but for refusing to play the game.” This statement is of great relevance to the novel The Outsider, by Albert Camus. Society as a whole enforces its ideas and values, upon all individuals, but particularly on those who differ from the “norm”. Through Meursault’s view of the world, contrasted with that of both the religious and judicial system this notion is foregrounded. Meursault’s outlook on death and dying is very different to that of the majority of people at the time....   [tags: Camus Stranger Essays]

Research Papers
1045 words (3 pages)

Related Searches

  Meursault instead chooses to focus his attentions on Monsieur Pérez and the excruciating heat.  He regards Monsieur Pérez as an “awkward, embarrassed-looking old man,” and occupies himself with observing Monsieur Pérez’s slow progress in the funeral procession.  During the funeral, and throughout the entire novel, Meursault is extremely bothered by the intense Algerian heat, and says that the “glare from the sky was unbearable.”  The sun also plays and important role later in the novel, when it serves as a catalyst for Meursault’s murder.

 After the procession, Meursault remembers little about the funeral itself.  The only thing that he remembers were the words of the nurse who spoke to him as they entered the village.  She told Meursault, “if you go slowly, you risk getting sunstroke.  But if you go too fast, you work up a sweat and then catch a chill inside the church.”  These words have a powerful effect on Meursault and he seems to regard them as a metaphor for life when he says, “she was right, there was no way out.” His actions and attitude at the funeral are indicative of the rest of his life.  Meursault is truly a stranger in his own life.  His is caught up in the absurdity of human existence, and is utterly unable to find any sort of meaning in his life.  Nothing matters to him because he realizes that his own mortal existence, as well as everyone else’s, will eventually come to an end.  His preoccupation with his inescapable doom prevents him from caring about anything or anyone.  His unemotional manner enables him to commit murder set on a sun-drenched Algerian beach,” which leads to his execution.
Return to