From page fifty-eight to fifty-seven of Albert Camus’s The Stranger he uses the relentless Algerian sun as a motif for the awareness of reality that pursues the main character, Meursault, throughout the passage. When each motif appears in the novel such as this passage, Meursault’s actions change. This exemplifies that the light, heat, and sun trigger him to become debilitated or furious. Albert Camus sets up this motif in the passage to indicate to the reader that this motif shows the major themes of this novel. This motif shows Meursault’s emotion, how the imagery of weaponry affects Meursault’s actions, how the sun is a representation of society, and how the sun weakens Meursault.
Camus’s motif of the sun illustrates Meursault’s emotions as he approaches the Arab, the sun’s rays separating Meursault from reality. “I knew that it was stupid, that I wouldn’t get the sun off me by stepping forward” (59). Yet after he utters this statement he takes another few steps forward. This sets the stage for the climax of Meursault’s murder of the Arab. More than anything the sun is depicted as a distraction to Meursault. It causes him to do things he would not normally do and clouds his judgment, causing him to commit a serious crime which will cause his own death. The sun is in a way a representation of the constraints society places upon Meursault. The effect the sun has on Meursault that results in death is a parallel to the effect of society on Meursault, which also results in death.
The imagery or weaponry and violence used my Camus creates a scene in which the light of the sun attacks Meursault. The murder scene itself is rich in solar imagery and the sun is depicted as the cause of the murder. "It was the same sun, the same light still shining on the same sand as before" (58). This quote suggests that the tension that existed previously during the confrontation with the group of Arabs was still present and that in a way nothing had changed. When it becomes clear that if he stayed any longer there would be conflict, Meursault knows that all he has to do is turn around. All he has to do is walk away, "But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back" (58). He takes a few steps towards the Arab, the glare of the sun becoming physically painful, and after a few more steps the Arab draws his knife. The sun flashes off the knife, blinding Meursault, his sweat in his eyes preventing him from seeing, the light scorching and stabbing at his eyes. "The trigger gave" (58) and it was all over for Meursault. The sun’s power over Meursault, shown through the strong imagery, forces Meursault to fire the revolver and kill the Arab. What makes it worse; he fires four more times to make sure the sun is dissipated for good.