The Stranger

1379 Words6 Pages
The Stranger is written by French theistic-existentialist Albert Camus and is about a French man named Meursault who lives in Algiers. Meursault is a subjective, logical and existential character that we see come into a different light throughout The Stranger due to the overbearing influence that death has. The Stranger is structured equally into the three deaths in the novel: the death of Meursault’s mother, Meursault’s murder of the Arab, and the execution of Meursault. However, to understand the mind of Meursault and the content of The Stranger, it is important to also understand the mind of Albert Camus. Camus never specifically refers to himself as an existentialist but certainly must be investigating his works and his philosophical…show more content…
This is an important event in The Stranger that occurs equidistant between the death of his mother and his execution (Moser). This point in the novel signifies a beginning of the end to Meursault’s indifference to death. The first shot that Meursault discharged from Raymond’s revolver into the Arab man is described as the fault of the sun’s coercion saying, “I was conscious only of the symbols of the sun clashing on my skull, and, less distinctly, of the keen blade of light flashing up from the knife, scarring my eyelashes, and gouging into my eyeballs” (Camus 38). Therefore, the true fault of the initial shot fired into the Arab’s body is with nature (Moser). This keeps Meursault at that point still in a state of Verfallen (401 Rossi). However, after the first shot (mortally wounding the Arab) the four unnecessary shots that follow from his revolver symbolize an admission of guilt from Meursault (Rossi 403). This is described by Patrick Brady as the “death of the Other” (Brady 183). The Other is representative of the indifference that Meursault feels towards the notion of death in the novel until after his admission of guilt symbolized by the four shots that he fires after the initial one (Chaitin). Thus, the “death of the Other” occurring after the four shots are fired, represents a sudden…show more content…
This idea is manifested in Camus’ work by Meursault’s trial for his murder of the Arab man. The trial is more of a pretext for Meursault’s killing than it is an actual fair trial (Girard). And while it is true that Meursault has indeed killed the Arab man, it is done so while Meursault is still in a state of Verfallen—meaning that he was not completely aware of his actions. Therefore, in this unique circumstance we have a crime but no criminal (Girard). In the trial, we see Meursault is not tried for the actual shooting of the Arab, but for his paradoxical alienation that he has in relation to society (Chaitin). Meursault’s societal stance is paradoxical because Meursault’s mind is devoid of the “Other” (Chaitin). However, Meursault is still subject to trying to understand what people who follow the norms of society want. For example, Meursault is worried about how his boss will react to him missing work for his mother’s funeral. So even though Meursault is alienated from the understanding of the desires of “Other”, his life is still bound to the desires of society for which he will be judged by in his trial (Chaitin). In fact, Meursault’s biggest conviction in his trial is for not crying at his own mother’s funeral.
Open Document