Albert Camus The Outsider Analysis

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Albert Camus’ The Stranger follows Meursault, a Frenchman living in Algiers when he commits a murder of an Arab man. The novel was written initially in French, but had been translated into a number of different languages, in which deviation in words occurred. The title itself, when examined under multiple translation, creates a new connotation for the novel. L’Étranger is the novel’s original title and it derives several similar, yet different meanings: The stranger, outsider, or foreigner. The British translation selected The Outsider, whereas the U.S. version prefers The Stranger. The term ‘stranger’ carries the idea of both nearness and distance, of nonrelation. The denotation of an outsider is one who doesn’t belong to a specific group.…show more content…
German sociologist, Georg Simmel, states in his sociological essay The Stranger, “He is fixed within a particular spatial group… But his position in this group is determined… by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, that he imports qualities into it, which do not and cannot stem from the group itself.” (1) The stranger is an individual whom actively participates in his group, yet is also significantly detached from it due to differentiation. Meursault’s behavior is not classified as ‘normal’ within his society; he is the extraneous element within his group because of his perspective. Due to his outsider behavior, intolerance and conformity is encouraged in others. Meursault feels this rejection first hand in the courtroom: “…the prosecutor exclaimed, “Oh no, that is quite sufficient!” with such glee and with such a triumphant look in my direction that for the first time in years I had this stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me” ( Camus 89-90). As the prosecutor leads him further into condemnation, Meursault realizes how much the people detested him. Accompanied by this recognition, he feels the urge to cry. Meursault, while he recognizes his peers’ distaste, fails to identify their reasoning for doing so. The people shun Meursault from their group,…show more content…
Meursault is part of a functioning group, yet is disconnected with his different ideals. His differentiation generates narrow-mindedness, motivating his peers to reject that behavior. However, without this variation within a society, there would be no example to look upon. Meursault’s existence as the stranger creates the society’s standards, ones that he is not included in. The process of estrangement and realization in which Meursault experiences can be seen through the varying aspects of his point of view during vital events in the novel. His commentary, realization, and embracing reaction all convey Meursault’s growth and acknowledgement as a stranger in society. By using Meursault’s narration and characterization, Camus provides a commentary on society’s standards and ruthless behavior towards those unlike the majority. Camus utilizes first person point of view to include Meursault’s unconventional and nonconformist ideas about normality and religion to reinforce him as the stranger of
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