The Stranger Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

The Stranger: An Absurdist Wonderland of Rhetoric
Galling but enthralling, "The Stranger" is a short and sweet read, deceptively simple, and despite itself, poignant. The protagonist's absurdist point of view--the axis on which The Stranger turns, provides the reader with philosophical food for thought and--undoubtedly--fodder for infinite debate. Impeccable use of language and sparse yet impactful rhetorical devices provide the perfect example of a master of rhetoric. Albert Camus’ The Stranger would be an incomparable addition to the AP Lang curriculum as an independent summer reading book. Through the removal of Virginia Wolfe’s A Room of One’s Own, the AP summer reading would grow ...view middle of the document...

This technique is striking, and appears once again in a suspenseful occurrence on the beach.
Camus’ talent comes through prominently in the episode at the beach. It is an impeccable example of suspense at its best. Camus elegantly and painstakingly utilizes imagery, the personification of the ocean, and once again the sun motif to both justify and cause Meursault’s murder of an Arab man in this excerpt: “The scorching blade slashed my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes...The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky had split open from one end to the other to rain down fire” (Camus, 59). The prosperous number of adjectives is out of character in the novel, making it even more impacting. Camus’ ability to portray a scene so vividly and clearly represents the pinnacle of talent and control an AP Lang student strives to reach.
Symbolically, The Stranger provides a strong and controversial commentary on the meaning of life through the eyes of an absurdist thinker. The ability to recognize symbols and relate them back to the cause of its inclusion is an essential aspect of the AP Lang curriculum. Through studying Camus’ many symbols--specifically the sun, weather, and the crucifix at the end of the novel--the student would increase their ability to think critically. The philosophical background of this novel and it’s symbols and motifs provide many viable essay questions and topics of interest spanning through both the rhetorical analysis and argumentation units. As a fairly short and easy read, it is not a novel that an AP Lang student would struggle with void of its underlying meaning. However, The Stranger includes many profound ideas that students will find personally challenging to both accept and debate.
The ability to create a well-balanced and stylistically appetizing piece of writing is the ultimate goal for all AP Lang students. Camus demonstrates this flawlessly. Every sentence is effective and often simple in construction--epitomizing both the philosophy of absurdism and Meursault himself. When The Stranger was first published in 1942, the aspect that evoked the most interest among critics was the use of the passé composé, the compound past tense, since the traditional tense used in literary narrative is the passé simple (Tarrow). Jean Paul Sartre, a friend and colleague of Camus’, in his review of the book, comments that the effect of the passé composé is to isolate...

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