Albert Camus's The Stranger

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In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the author’s absurdist views of life are reflected through the main character Meursault. The reader follows Meursault from his mother’s funeral to his own death, as he exerts his indifference to the world around him. Camus’s employment of motifs represent Meursault’s consciousness of absurdity in a world where everything fails to retain meaning. Nevertheless, humans still seek value in their lives from surrealalities; absurdities that are incapable of immortalising humans. The motifs of religion, judgement, and death inspire Meursault’s heroism through his sincerity and rejection of these absurd social norms. Camus’ use of religion as a motif emphasises the absurdity of seeking solace in it, triggering Meursault’s…show more content…
After his arrest, those responsible for upholding justice ironically dismiss Meursault’s sincerity. Instead of focusing on Meursault’s concrete crime the prosecutor dubs him “a monster, a man without morals” and calls to light Meursault’s ‘monstrous’ indifference to societal norms (96). His sentence is entirely based on the fact that “[Meursault] did not show emotion over his heinous offence” (100). Meursault judges their certainty that “human justice would mete out punishment unflinchingly” as absurd (101). “The utter pointlessness of whatever [he] was doing there seized him by the throat” as Meursault loses hope in any chance of his survival, unlike any other human on trial (105). The harsh treatment Meursault endures for refusing to believe in justice also results in his death; he remains unrepentant when the prosecutor faces him with the severity of the murder. The absurdity of justice becomes apparent. Meursault decides that death is inevitable whether he argues his case or not and thus “[accepts] the rejection of [his] appeal” (114). The justice system may be perfect in anyone else’s eyes, but Camus proves its absurdity: it is unmeasurable and is unforgiving. Meursault’s certainty in the hopelessness of justice is unacceptable for most, who would grab at any chance to keep themselves out of prison. He is clearly different; he…show more content…
When faced with the concept of death, most people seem to overlook its sureness. Only in light of his own mortality does Meursault ever realise its absurdity. His mother’s death has little impact on Meursault’s life: “it’s almost as if [she] weren’t dead” (3). Unlike the people at his mother’s funeral, who were “crying softly” and “sat there hunched up, gloomy and silent,” Meursault remains indifferent (10). The “brown sores and scabs” on Salamano’s dog and Salamano’s “reddish scabs” and “wispy yellow hair” are symptoms of mortality (26-27). Meursault is disturbed by “the toothless mouths” and the “[nests] of wrinkles” that greet him at his mother’s funeral (10). Even these hints are not enough for Meursault to develop his consciousness of mortality and the absurdity of any endeavour in life. When confronting the Arabs on the beach, Meursault realises that “[he] could either shoot or not shoot” (56). Someone else’s life and death has no implication on his own life at all; any action in life is therefore obsolete. Meursault deviates from societal norms; experiencing death does not shake him. For a ‘normal’ human being, all activities are important. Contrastingly, Meursault, when faced with the certainty of his own death understood why “at the end of [his mother’s] life she had taken a “fiancee,” why

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