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Mortality In The Stranger By Albert Camus

1131 words - 5 pages

Everyone will die. Meursault’s awareness of death contributes to his nonchalant attitude toward every death he witness or must endure in The Stranger. Death fails to upset Meursault. In The Stranger, Albert Camus emphasizes mortality in order to expose the ignorance humanity has towards the inevitable or unknown end.
Camus’s emphasis on time accentuates Meursault’s indifference. This indifference reveals that death occurs inevitably, regardless of time. The first thought that the audience reads, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday,” immediately exhibits that when Maman died does not affect the fact that she did die (Camus 3). This assertion foreshadows Meursault’s acceptance of his own death sentence, merely because everyone dies at some point. In another instance, Meursault values his time. He organizes his mother’s funeral arrangements in a schedule that minimizes his time absent from work. He figures, “That way I can be there for the vigil and come back tomorrow night. I asked my boss for two days off and there was no way he was going to refuse me with an excuse like that,” (Camus 3). Meursault focuses on the time that he takes off from his job instead of the recent death of his mother, exemplifying that one cannot gain back lost time, but can only spend the present wisely. Camus reinforces this allegation when Meursault recalls, “But according to him, the dog’s real sickness was old age, and there’s no cure for old age” (Camus 45). Again, lost time is never regained, no matter what one does to compensate. During this conversation between Meursault and Salamano, Meursault realizes, “But since a dog doesn’t live as long as a man, they’d ended up being old together” (Camus 44). This realization demonstrates the lack of power that people have over time, and by association, death. The reader assumes that since Salamano and his dog grow old together, they may likely also die together. Nearer to Meursault’s execution, the chaplain asks, “But if you don’t die today, you’ll die tomorrow, or the next day. And then the same question will arise. How will you face that terrifying ordeal” (Camus 117)? Death, unpredictable and uncontrollable, will occur when it wishes, and through his indifference to time, Meursault asserts that getting upset over something known to be inevitable provides as useless.
Camus foreshadows Meursault’s death through the symbols of heat and Salamano’s dog. While observing Salamano and his dog, Meursault notes, “After living together for so long, the two of them alone in one tiny room, they’ve ended up looking like each other…They look as if they belong to the same species, yet they hate each other” (Camus 26-27). The likeness of Salamano and his dog produces the idea of inescapable death for all living things. They have become similar to each other in appearance without...

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