The Stranger opens up the death of Monsieur Meursault’s Maman. He attends her funeral showing no emotion or affection and the next day hooks up with his old coworker Marie. One day his neighbor Raymond asks him to write a letter to his mistress in his place so she will come back to him. When she does return, Raymond abuses her for cheating on him. His mistresses’ brother, an Arab is irate and soon Raymond feels threatened by him. One day Meursault, Marie, and Raymond go to Meursault’s wealthy friend Masson’s beach house for the weekend. The Arab’s followed them there and Meursault kills an Arab for no apparent reason. Part two starts the trial of Monsieur Meursault. After many days, he is proven guilty and sentenced with the death penalty. Later a chaplain stops by before his execution to help him repent and be saved. Meursault has no emotion and says he doesn’t care about heaven but rather making the most of right now.
What insight into society or human nature (the human condition) does this work offer?The stranger offers insight into society by showing how twisted human nature is. Monsieur Meursault was a heartless and ruthless man. He displayed no emotion what so ever and this is evident when he smokes at his mother’s vigil, something so absurd to society. Another proof of his lack of emotion was when he said he would marry Marie when he truly didn’t love her or when he killed an Arab for no apparent reason. These all point back to the fact that we live in a twisted world. People try to make excuses for their faults just like Meursault did after he killed an Arab. People need to start taking ownership for their actions and stop blaming the world for what they do.
The theme is developed throughout the stranger in the events that take place leading up to Monsieur Meursault’s trial and then develop even more so when his trial occurs. His absurd actions begin on the first page of the book when he seems unaffected by his mother’s death and only grow in absurdity towards the end of the first part. During the second part of the book, Monsieur Meursault starts making excuses for his actions and blaming other things for his actions rather than just taking responsibility and repenting. Author’s style including diction (words) syntax (sentence structure), figurative language, ironic devices.
Camus uses great diction throughout The Stranger and never wastes his thoughts with lighthearted phrases and words. He is very straightforward with his diction and uses imagery to explain facts from the roundness of Marie’s breast to the way the night sky looks. Camus uses imagery to reveal Monsieur Meursault’s character. He is so visual yet lacks emotional feelings.
‘It occurred to me that anyway one more Sunday was over that Maman was buried now, that I was going back to work, and that, really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). Meursault thinks this when he comes home from his mother’s funeral. This is a perfect depiction of the way that our society lives. His mother had just died and he goes on to say that “really, nothing had changed” (Camus, 17). How sad that the woman who had raised him was now gone and he didn’t care.
‘I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn’t see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn’t unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered’ (Camus, 41). Monsieur Meursault is saying that he doesn’t know why he would want to live his life any different because he’s happy and to him that’s all that matters. There’s nothing bigger in life to him.
‘They had before them the basest of crimes, a crime made worse than sordid by the fact that they were dealing with a monster, a man without morals’ (Camus, 95). The narrator says this during Monsieur Meursault’s trial because he was being ridiculous and basically saying that he didn’t care that he killed someone. He was ruthless and didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t think how his trial would affect Marie or any of his friends, he only cared about himself and proving a point.
‘He wanted to talk to me about God again, but I went up to him and made one last attempt to explain to him that I only had a little time left and I didn’t want to waste it on God” (Camus, 74 ) Meursault was given a chance to save his soul before he died and yet he was so ignorant and self-centered that he thought he could only save himself. He didn’t want to even think about religion, because he was focused on living in the present and not worrying about what tomorrow would hold.
I enjoyed this literary work. It was short but still conveyed a strong message. The author was smart with depicting our society because I think Monsieur cared for nobody but himself and that is a perfect example of our world. People live for themselves. They put their needs in front of others and then when things go wrong, they blame other people. Less and less people are taking ownerships of their wrongs nowadays and it’s becoming a normal.
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