The Stranger Essay

789 words - 3 pages

The Stranger

The Stranger exhibits a society that has confined itself with a
specific set of social standards that dictate the manner in which
people are supposed to act. This ideology determines the level of
morality, and how much emphasis should placed on following this
certain "ethical" structure. Albert Camus's main character, Meursault,
is depicted as a nonconformist that is unwilling to play society's
game. Through Meursault's failure to comply with society's values and
conform to the norm, he is rejected and also condemned to death by
society. He is tried for the crime of murder, but is not judged solely
on his actions during the aforementioned crime. He is judged on his
specific actions that society regards as absurd according to its
social standards. Meursault's different outlook on life differentiates
him from the society around him, and as a result, he is deemed a
threat to society's moral standard. He is unwilling to relinquish his
philosophy and subsequently is convicted due to his inability to
conform as society intends.

"Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." Meursault's
character is unable to physically express emotion regarding any
situation. Even through the first person narrative that Camus employs,
the reader is unable to get a grasp as to Meursault's personal
feelings regarding certain events in the novel. The event of his
mother's death seems to have no effect on Meursault. He is neither
saddened nor overjoyed by the news of his mother's death. During the
funeral, he is unable to show any emotion, and gives the reader no
insight as to what he is thinking or feeling. The fact that he did not
cry and the fact that he did not pay his respects comes back to haunt
Meursault during his trial when the jury uses his peculiar acts to
make a judgment on his level of morality. Meursault's character is the
determining factor in his conviction and sentencing. His social
rebellion is deemed immoral and abominable.

The reader and the novel's characters both try to rationalize
Meursault's actions in order to give his life meaning. But according
to Meursault, life is meaningless and consequently needs no
justification. "The day after his mother's death, this man was out
swimming, starting up a dubious liaison, and going to the movies, a
comedy, for laughs." The prosecutor uses Meursault's previous unusual
actions as evidence that he is a threat to society. His actions are
deemed monstrous by the jury and subsequently end in Meursault's
conviction. Society uses the past in order to justify the present. It
is incorrect for one to...

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