The Wrath of Society Essay

The Wrath of Society Essay

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In the book “The Stranger,” Albert Camus portrays Meursault, the main character, as one who shows indifference towards the moral standards set in place by society. Because of this indifference, he does not restrain his actions based upon what society would think of him. Thus, his failure to abide by society’s norms, as seen when he is interviewed by the magistrate, during his court case, and when he “talks with the magistrate, leads him to his downfall.
Meursault’s failure to fit within society’s guidelines begins to lead to his downfall, as can be seen when he talks with the magistrate. During the interview, the magistrate asked him why he had fired extra shots at a body that was already dead on the ground. Meursault thought about this for a bit, and “once again, [he] could see the red sand and feel the burning of the sun on [his] forehead. But this time, [he] didn’t answer. (67)” He could describe the settings of the shooting, but could not provide a rational explanation as to why he had shot at the dead body. This shows that he most likely acted upon his physical instincts, as he could vividly describe the scene of the shooting, but could not describe any rational motives. Since he could not provide any reasoning for his action, the magistrate asks him, “Why? You must tell me. Why? (68)” This question of “why” shows that the society that Meursault lives in puts emphasis on reasoning. Since Meursault had acted on an instinct, he had no rational reason to explain his pause between firing the shots, and remains silent. However, the magistrate misinterprets this silence, and instead assumes that Meursault does not wish to share why, causing him to zealously preach to Meursault about God, and why he believes that Meursault needs o...


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...dead. When Meursault states that he does not believe in God, he is branded as “Monsieur Antichrist,” being compared to the devil. Later, his trial paints a false picture of his life, based upon his prior actions. Though those actions were committed due to his physical instincts, he was seen as a monster who engaged in despicable activities after his mother’s death. Finally, during his “friendly” talk with the chaplain, he tries to explain to the chaplain the reason as to why he lives the way he did. Instead, he was seen as assaulting the chaplain, and the chaplain ignored his point, instead “pitying” him for not seeing things the way his society did. Because of his divergence from the norm, Meursault loses his trial and appeal, and it can be assumed that he is executed.



Works Cited
Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. Alfred A. Knopf. Inc., 1988.

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