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Albert Camus' Novel - the Stranger

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Albert Camus' novel The Stranger has a narrator who is affected by the norms and values of society, and is contended with what he believes in. Meursault is dealing with crime, punishment, death, relationship, and the lack of meaning towards all of his events. In the end, Meursault has accepted "the gentle indifference in the world" (Camus 112). Meursault's lack of affection contends with societies norms, and taboos, and in resolution his actions, attitudes, and values are negatively affected. Meursault's past, contributes widely to the philosophical meaning of the novel.

A reader's first realization that Meursault is disconnected with feeling is in his point of view with other characters. He is highly subjective to how he describes the other characters; Meursault doesn't explore the emotions or thoughts of anyone in the novel. This is just an opening light of how he is detached to feelings of not only himself, but also other characters. Another example is his relationship with Marie. He makes no commitment to Marie; other than being physically attracted. "Then she wanted to know if I loved her. I answered the same way I had the last time, that it didn't mean anything but that I probably didn't love her"(Camus 41). He takes the feeling of love and the gesture of marriage lightly Meursault didn't even take time to consider his answer, He just answers "sure"(Camus 42). The fact that love doesn't mean anything to him means that he doesn't have any affection toward Marie besides sexual relations. When Meursault is in trial, he makes note of the fact that he didn't look at Marie at any moment during the trial. This just goes along with the fact that he doesn't care about Marie.

In the beginning of the book, we find out that Meursault's mother has died. The first line in the book is Meursault not remembering what day his mother had died. "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know"(Camus 3). As we find out he didn't cry or seem to have any grief. When the keeper came up to open the casket so Meursault could see his mother before they buried her he said "no"(Camus 13). Meursault doesn't really show any interest toward his mother dying which causes a societal taboo later in the novel.

The reason for Meursault to be morally evaluated by society is because of his crime. In the novel he unreasonably kills an Arab. He doesn't show any principal feeling about killing the Arab and is more condemned for that than actually killing the man. During the trial he is questioned a lot about his Maman, and her death. Witnesses from the funeral come up to speak against Meursault. Perez was one of the witnesses reviewed. "The prosecutor asked if he had at least seen me cry...He asked Perez in what seemed to be an exaggerated tone of voice if he had seen me not cry"(Camus 91). Perez had replied that he hadn't and the jury took special note of the lack of affection. Instead of the trial being concerned with the murder, they convicted him of moral feeling.




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