Albert Camus. The French- Algerian writer of The Stranger or otherwise known as The Outsider, presents the book from the point of view of the protagonist that lives and performs the main action of killing a person, that the book revolves around in the French-Algeria. Gives the reader a glimpse on the scenery and the state of mind of the protagonist that maybe Camus himself experienced in a lap of his life. Of course Camus had to add some extra, alias the murder, to make this story interesting for the reader. Some academics that kept their mind out of the box whilst the lecture of the book catches a tender Mediterranean breeze that originates from the land that is the extreme end of the Dark Continent and finds its way to the home of the wine and cheese. Camus that is the very son of a generation created by that breeze made it recognisable to the attentive eyes that travel through the pages of The Stranger.
The story starts with Camus presenting the protagonist, Merusault. This man, which will commit a murder later on the story, is presented to the reader as quasi banal, a standard man with standard tastes and surroundings. Meursault has some issues like disconnection with family, issue that consists the beginning of the book when Meursault is informed of his mother’s death, that most of the people have on different levels and aspects. Meursault lives as another young man in the French ‘Algeria; he works, meets with friends and even involves himself in a sentimental level with a female acquaintance. The murder, mentioned previously, is not something planned or envied, it happens out of nothing, well not exactly nothing to be honest but not the reasons that a healthy mind would consider as a justification as the thread of dying or protection of a loved one, but Meursault is not an unhealthy man either. So why did he do that? Why kill a man over a petty thievery of a simple quarrel? The answer to that may be heartbreaking or even disturbing. Hid did it because hi felt so. Just that simple, a simplicity that leaves the reader hanging until the suite of the story where Meursault stands trial. Camus was able to illustrate with The Stanger his experiments about the absurd nature of life and existence. Coldly follows the protagonist Meursault, who lives his life abroad, who is like out of himself and totally disinterested in his own fate. Nothing interests him; he is spiritually empty; no thought no desire or no passion. Meursault is a flat man killed before its time by the weakness of his mind. In fact, Meursault, it’s a little like the death of what was human in the human being, that is to say, all his curiosity, his desire to know, fades and disappears. Meursault’s life is simple for himself as hi has no interest to whatever happens to him but it is most interesting to the reader who tries to decipher the meaning of this indifference.
To give a brief example about this incapacity to feel, this emptiness of emotions and passions, psycopathy would be near accurate to be mentioned. Psycopathy is basically the deficiency of emotions in the part of the brain, the thalamus, which generates the sensations, emotions. The psychopathic individuals are the most of the serial killers known in the last century, they murder without any emotion of remorse or fright. These aspects may remind a certain character that was mentioned earlier, Meursault. Meursault murders the young Arab without any thought or emotion. This opens the door to a new kind of thinking. Did Camus meet a psychopath in his life and blended his or her attributes to his to create his protagonist? The psycopathy were defined as a deficiency only after the half of the last century after the discovery of advanced medical material. At the time when Camus wrote his book there was no way to identify such people. Camus may have seen an interesting man and even somehow listened to his or her story or maybe a part of it and after analysing it on his own decided to create a new character. Of course these thoughts are all on hypothetical basis but who knows? The novel is a success itself in mainly France and after the whole world. Camus wrote a book that the story happens in the colonised Algeria by France. This aspect of the book resembles very much with the novels that have been written about and on the colonised India of the British Colonial Empire. This kind of books became most popular in France with the era of Jules Verne; Verne invented a new line of literature about the exploration of the world and the adventures of the characters in them. Later on Camus did a similar thing but this time with the exploration of a crossed cultures young man who lost his senses, and as mentioned before the story of Meursault, who is the narrator of the book itself, may be banal to himself but it most certainly isn’t to the reader, and in this spot Camus satisfies with his inner exploration of Meursault during the trial, the time hi passes in prison and even at the very beginning of the book when the reader isn’t even aware of anything yet.
What made the success of this novel is the first character who is also the narrator. Often the reader empathises when a narrative is in first person. The other side of success is that this novel seems simple. It tells a story altogether banal, that of a man who comes to the funeral of his mother, who falls in love with Marie, whose next door neighbour has problems with one of his mistresses. This neighbour, Raymond, invites Mary and Meursault in a shed belonging to one of his friends on the beach. The group then meets young people who include brothers of the scorned mistress. Of course, a fight ensues, in which Raymond is injured. Later, while he was walking on the beach, Meursault meets again one of the protagonists of the fight. Blinded by the sun, no longer, therefore, all his senses, the narrator takes the revolver that was found in his pocket and shoots blindly, killing the young. This could be in the various facts. Yes Meursault does not stop there. A bullet could have on the border pass for an accident, but certainly not the four that followed! And then tell the trial? Meursault does not show an ounce of regret of his actions. This lack of emotions may again refer to the hypothetical pshypathic theory.
This book also makes the audience think about death, but not the death as we know it, the death that is easy, and the action of killing seen in a different day light. The killing of the young Arab that may have been an accident and easily justified, furthermore the lack of remorse that worsens the situation leading to the own death of the narrator- protagonist. Meursault makes it seem nearly as casual as drinking coffee in the morning, by calling it casual let’s not forget that this is the point of view of the narrator, so simple and merely boring even. The fact that he welcomes his own death isn’t because his felt he was getting what he deserved no, he is going to be relieved of his prison of life from the hand of another and won’t have to deal with the action of self killing itself makes the reader think of him in a poor way in this part of the story. The death sentence given to the narrator at the end of the trial that relives him is another subject to be talked on. Albert Camus indirectly gives us the sense of the death penalty. Why it is done and that it has nothing to do with punishment or a public safety measure. The death penalty restores social unity; it subtracts the one that corrupts the community and does not want to comply with its laws. Not just the security laws – those that ban blood crimes – but also all the others, those unspoken on how to behave, what he is doing and what is not good.
So this trial is the revenge of the proper thinking, social cohesion is getting around that foreigner who refuses the codes and the laws. It is made and directed to restore the balance of the society. It is not about the punishment or revenge of the death. It is the revenge of the system that is hold deer by the society to organise and rule over.
This novel contains a mystery that continues to fascinate the readers. Indeed, every detail helps to know better the Meursault personality but in return intensifies the impression of confusion for their interpretation.
In this novel the death is the key element of awareness of the absurdity of life. Life is absurd because it dies. Death, however, is to Meursault, tamed to some extent. “To die at thirty or seventy doesn’t matter because, of course, in both cases, other men and other women live, and that, for thousands of years.” The awareness of death generates a revolt that expresses violently in Meursault. This revolt is metaphysical because it opposes the idea of God. A good God could have created an absurd world where not only injustice and misery reign. Meursault does not want to lose what little time he has left to live to talk with the chaplain of a God whom he does not believe. But when the chaplain told him that he will pray for him, Meursault rebels, he bursts: there is something popped in him and began to shout aloud and insult the chaplain saying not to pray. Discovering himself as his master suite to this event has brought him a kind of inner peace that will hold him calm until his execution and will provide him a not so noticeable vanity.
The Stranger is a very good novel to fit into the work of Camus; it is fast to read, the writing is clear, the character is intriguing. Sure, it does not breathe the joy of living and daisies in the spring but there is almost suspense to know what the next action, which is unusual, the accepted norm that will make a Meursault spared emotions.
The emotions find a little creek when Meursault is waiting his execution in his cell. After the visit of the chaplain he feels happy again, thinks about Marie, and is satisfied that his execution will be public; he won’t be alone anymore. This state of mind that the narrator shows at the mere end of his life may be disturbing. A man who is about to die is happy because he won’t be alone whilst dying, even that the crowd that will be there for him won’t be for his sake but to watch a monster deprived of all humanly attitude and sensation, by their thinking, die and see a rebel that refuses to submit to the laws and rules written or spoken, by the hand of the enforcers of these laws.
Albert Camus presents the book from the point of view of the protagonist that lives and performs the main action of the book the killing a person, that the book revolves around in the French-Algeria. Gives the reader a glimpse on the scenery and the state of mind of the protagonist that maybe Camus himself experienced in a lap of his life. By giving this prose in the hands of the reader Camus achieves to make the reader think of the death without fearing it and showing the ideas of killing and dying from another point of view than the reader’s. To conclude, this novel made lots of rocks move around in its own domain and presented a new horizon to the ones that like to achieve the story with their own versions and fill the gaps with their own imaginative products.
Works Cited and/or Consulted
Scherr, Arthur. “Meursault’s Dinner with Raymond: A Christian Theme in Albert Camus’s L’Etranger.” Christianity and Literature 2009. Print.
Lowen, Jeanette. “How Can We Live in the World of the Absurd? the Humanism of Albert Camus.” Free Inquiry 22 Sept. 1994. Print.
“Albert Camus, The Stranger.” Choice Reviews Online (1988): 26-0821. Print.
Simon, Ernest. “Palais De Justice and Poetic Justice in Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature: 111-25. Print.
Morisi, Eve ‘To Kill a Human Being: Camus and Capital Punishment’
South Central Review, Volume 31, Number3, Fall 2014.
Clark, Eleanor ‘The Kenyon Review’ Vol. 8 No. 4 Autumn, 1946