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Family And Personal Relationships: How It Drives The Protagonists’ Character Development In The Stranger

1566 words - 7 pages

The Stranger by Albert Camus focuses largely on the concept of absurdism. Camus uses family and personal relationships, or the lack of it thereof, to show the isolation that the main character, Meursault, undergoes in the novel and it’s effect on him overall. Camus utilizes the protagonists’ character development as a tool to further his plot of the novel. The absence of family and personal relationships tied in with the particular recurring topics of the novel are crucial in both the development of the protagonists’ characters as well as the plot as it affects the portrayal of the main character.
Towards the beginning, Camus introduces the absence of family, thereby beginning the character development of the protagonists in their respective novels. In The Stranger, Camus begins the novel with “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know” (Camus 3). This is the first instance that the reader is being introduced to Meursault, the main character of the novel. The reader learns that Maman, Meursault’s mother, is the only family member that Meursault has in the entire novel. Furthermore, Camus uses Meursault’s response to this tragedy not only to get the reader a first glimpse of the protagonist, but as a way to introduce the topic of absurdism that the novel is building up towards. As the funeral proceedings continue, Meursault feels like smoking, but is first hesitant in doing so because he “didn’t know if [he] could do it with Maman right there” (Camus 8). However, Meursault soon follows this up with “I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked” (Camus 8). This at first shows us a sense of hesitancy as he pauses for a moment to think whether what he is doing is acceptable. However, this brief hesitancy is soon followed by his ultimate decision in choosing to smoke, one that reveals to the reader a remorseless, indifferent character. Also at the time of the funeral, the caretaker approached him and asked if he “would you like to see [his] mother one last time?’” (Camus 13), an offer he chose to decline. This developing indifference in Meursault’s character is what the reader is presented with as the book starts off. This excerpt from the novel shows his overall attitude towards the death of his mother, not wanting to see her for the last time before she is gone forever, which leads the reader to question the personality of this man. With the death of Ramone’s dog, Meursault “realized [Ramone] was crying” which in turn led him to “[think] of Mama”. However, he overcomes this thought by telling himself that “[he] had to get up early the next morning” and therefore “[he} went to bed without any dinner”. Camus incorporates the death of Ramone’s dog in order to once again display the strong contrast between Ramone’s reaction to his dog’s death compared to Meursault’s reaction to his mother’s death. Ramone is mourning over a member such as his dog passing away, and on ther other hand Meursault is...

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