The Stranger Essay

1661 words - 7 pages

The Estranged StrangerIn the novel, The Stranger, by Albert Camus, Meursault lives an incredibly simple life without any guidance of emotion throughout his daily activities. He is rather indifferent to his surroundings and shows no concern for anyone. Meursault does not adhere to the same morals as those around him and therefore, he is treated as an alien because he is so different from society. His refusal to conform to societal norms makes others uncomfortable because it disrupts their ordered universe and what they think is meaningful. Camus suggests that while humans inherently desire meaning and purpose in our lives, such rational order does not exist. The characters persistently attempt to find this absent meaning. However, this inane act reveals that we, as humans, hold a flawed understanding of our world.Meursault is an anomaly in society. He disregards the tenet that emotional displays are necessary and instead, lives his life detached and impassive. When he is notified of his mother's death, he seems disinterested by the news and shows no despair for her loss. He merely states "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know" (3). This supposedly tragic event is just another occurrence in Meursault's life. It does not have a significant impact on his life so he does not even bother to fake the emotions that are expected from the death of a loved one. When he attends his mother's vigil, he recounts his experience more as an observer than as a participant. He is very detailed when it comes to describing the atmosphere but brief when it involves describing himself. He has a strong reaction to all things tactile like the discomfort of the bus ride to the vigil and the overbearing heat during the day but still attaches no emotions to them. Meursault notices that he is the only one that does not express any sentiments while all of those around him are overwhelmed with sadness. He specifies one woman who continuously cried "softly, steadily, in little sobs" (10). Meursault wonders if she will ever stop crying until a few moments later, the woman "finally shut up" (11). The sobbing and weeping that accompanies the vigil is anticipated because it is expected of people to show grief when someone dies. However, since Meursault defies against social norms, he does not believe sorrow is a necessary reaction. He is somewhat relieved that the woman stopped crying because in his eyes, she was making his mother's death a bigger deal than it really was. Meursault also shows indifference towards his girlfriend, Marie. He does not know how to love or perhaps, he sees no purpose to feel such affections towards another being. Marie asks Meursault if he loves her and Meursault accounts that his reply "didn't mean anything but that [he] didn't think so" (35). His answer is very honest but also of emotional indifference. Meursault does not conform to societal expectations of answering Marie in a way that hurts her feeling in the least amount possible. His...

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