Eyes In The Stranger By Albert Camus

1041 words - 4 pages

In The Stranger, Albert Camus personifies eyes as a source of knowledge. Characters come upon knowledge through many different sources from touch to hearing. The knowledge gained through eyes can range from, self discovery to understanding events taking place. Eyes and knowledge all seem to be related to Meursault. Meursault’s ability to understand events and circumstances depends on his clarity of vision. Unlike other characters, Meursault’s eyes do not provide knowledge, thus leaving characters misunderstanding him. Characters who have blue eyes help Meursault realize a truth about himself.
Unlike the other characters, Meursault’s eyes lack knowledge. In order to understand why Meursault killed the Arab or why he refused to convert to Christianity, characters continuously look him in the eyes in hope to find his reasoning. Even when Meursault answers them, they still are left doubting and asking more questions. For example the magistrate:
All of a sudden […] jerked his head up and looked [Muersault] in the eyes.
“Why,” he asked, “don’t you let me come to see you?”
[Muersault] explained that [he] didn’t believe in God.
“Are you really so sure of that?”
[Muersault] said [he] saw no point in troubling my head about the matter; whether [he] believed or didn’t was, to [his] mind, a question of so little importance.
Even though Meursault honestly answers the magistrate, and looks him straight in the eye, the magistrate still does not find any truth in Meursaults reply. The magistrate tries once again to see if he can get Meursault to confess.
When I said nothing, he looked at me again, and asked:
“Don’t you agree?”
I said that seemed quite possible. But, though I mightn’t be so sure about what interested me, I was absolutely sure about what didn’t interest me. And the question he had raised didn’t interest me at all.
He looked away and, without altering his posture, asked if it was because I felt utterly desperate that I spoke like this. I explained that it wasn’t despair I felt, but fear—which was natural enough.
Generally when people lie they look away from the person that accused them, however, even when Meursault looks the magistrate in the eyes and tells him what he thinks, the magistrate is still left unsatisfied. Meursault’s lack of insightful eyes leaves everyone questioning him, and never fully understanding him even when he explicitly states it.

The understanding of events depends on the character’s clarity of vision. The old saying “seeing is believing” comes into play in The Stranger; Meursualt never really understands or realizes events or actions that he had performed while his vision was impaired. One example is when Meursault shoots the Arab. Right before he pulls the trigger he describes, “Beneath a veil of brine and tears my eyes were blinded; I was conscious only of the cymbals of the sun clashing on my skull, and, less distinctly, of the keen blade of light flashing up from the knife, scarring my...

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