"'the Outsider' Begins, Climaxes And Ends With Death." What Do You Think Camus Wants To Say About The Fact Of Death?

2506 words - 10 pages

Albert Camus', 'The Outsider', explores death and existence in a unique and provocative manner. Death is the beginning, middle and end of the novel and this highlights the importance of death in the world as seen through the eyes of Camus. Camus' ideas are developed along the lines of his Absurdist philosophies. He derives that death is an inevitable conclusion to life, rendering life itself pointless. He looks at the 'Absurdity' of life and also examines society's traditional sombre reaction to death, in particular how a person who does not adhere to this type of response is alienated. Through the use of his own distinctive writing style, Camus enables the reader to adopt the perspective of Meursault and shows what makes him an 'outsider'.Camus' Absurdist philosophy heavily influences the depiction of death in 'The Outsider'. Absurdism emphasises the meaninglessness of life and the irrationality with which events unfold. Death is seen by Absurdists as an inevitable conclusion to existence, rendering human life pointless. Meursault is used by Camus to symbolise Absurdist views in the novel. His indifferent reaction to the deaths of his mother and the Arab embody the Absurdist attitude. When Meursault grasps the inevitability of his own death he becomes truly happy for the first time. Camus seems to be suggesting that embracing the inevitability of death, in the same way as Meursault, will lead to true happiness.Camus uses the sun to symbolise and foreshadow death. At his mother's funeral, Meursault makes frequent reference to the sun - "The sun was already high in the sky" (p.20), "The glare from the sun was unbearable" (p.21). Again, before he murders the Arab, Meursault becomes acutely aware of the light from the sun and its radiant heat - "my head [was] ringing from the sun" (p.56), "scorching air" (p.59). Indeed, Meursault begins to see the glare of the sun everywhere and increasingly feels the oppressive heat weighing down upon him. "When Raymond handed me the gun, the sun glinted off it" (p.57). To make the use of the sun to foreshadow the Arabs death even more obvious, Meursault states that, "It was the same sun as on the day of mother's funeral..." (p.59).In 'The Outsider', the sun is a powerful obstacle to Meursault. The sun preoccupies Meursault's mind whenever he is in its presence. It is an annoying distraction for Meursault, one which he is unable to banish; until he kills the Arab. In prison, where he is free from the sun, Meursault is finally allowed the freedom of mind to think clearly. The sun is used to symbolise death because its oppressive effects on Meursault are representative of the oppressive effects of death on society's wellbeing. Death is a cause of frustration and anger. However, society cannot ignore the confronting finality of death, just as Meursault cannot ignore the overpowering effects of the sun. Only when Meursault announces that he is "forever indifferent" (p.116) to the sun is he free from its impression. In...

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