Individuality In Camus's The Stranger

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In The Stranger, Camus explores man’s perception of the absurd through his protagonist Meursault, a French Algier, who ‘unwittingly gets drawn into a senseless murder’ on an Algerian beach. Meursault’s indifference to his mother’s death and the crime he has committed, among others, isolates him from society and leads to his incrimination. Throughout The Stranger, Meursault’s intensive focus on the natural world such as the sea and especially the sun, in contrast to his indifference to human relationships, highlights their importance. Light, a product of the sun, proves especially significant. Camus description of light in relation to Meursault shows Meursault’s individuality throughout the story and his reaction to death.

Throughout The
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The first time light is introduced is in Meursault’s bus ride to attend Maman’s funeral where he describes it as the ‘glare of the sky.’ He mentions that “It was probably because of all the rushing around, and on top of that the bumpy ride, the smell of gasoline, and the glare of the sky and the road, that I dozed off.” (pg. 4) When he wakes up he is slumped against a soldier who asks him if he has been travelling a long time, understanding that as a reason for sleeping on stranger, but not the effect of the sun (light). In this scene, light can only be accounted for as one of the reasons of Meursault’s drowsiness, however its similar effect on Meursault during Maman’s vigil where he asks the caretaker to ‘turn off one of the lights’ because the ‘glare on the white walls was making (him) drowsy” (pg. 9),confirms light’s lethargic effect and his singular attunement to it. Later on in Ch. 7, the effect light has on Meursault is escalated when he describes standing in the street and “the day, already bright with sun (hitting him) like a slap in the face.” Marie on the other hand has an opposite reaction, ‘jumping…show more content…
While society has been almost inattentive to it all long, Meursault only reaches this stage by the time he confronts and accepts his own death. However, his approach to light like to his death is genuine, unlike society’s. His attitude toward light is demonstrated through the language he uses to describe it. In Part One just before Meursault kills the Arab, he characterizes the sunlight as the “blinding stream falling from the sky”(pg. 57). Similarly, on the same page he describes the light as a ‘blade’ that makes his jaws tighten. Through the analogy of light to a blade, the light is given concrete violent qualities, making Meursault’s hostile description of light throughout the passage seem less subjective and increasingly combative. The word blinding has a similar effect. Throughout his trial in Part Two Meursault treats light in the same way as in Part I, on pg. 82 describing the sun as ‘glaring outside.’ However, his death sentence brings new meaning to light. He no longer worries himself with the presence of light, but instead the absence of light, specifically that the light of morning will not come. He knows that ‘they’ always come at dawn to bring the prisoner for his/her execution, so if he is able to view the ‘first light (...) on the plane of sky’ he will be safe. At this point, all

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