Meursault A Man Who Refuses To

Play The Game Essay, Research Paper

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know,” are the first statements made by the protagonist Meursault, in Albert Camus’s The Stranger, One finds this a very peculiar way to speak of a mother’s passing. Meursault, however, finds his statement perfectly normal because he is not sure which day his mother died; he feels this is a perfectly logical statement. This quote is just one of the many examples of how Meursault is not a normal person in societies eyes. Meursault, in fact, is a man who refuses to play the game.

Meursault never really visited his mother (Maman), while she was alive, although he knew she was going to die eventually. When Maman dies, Meursault sees the services as a mere formality, dictated by society. He feels that the services are something that he has to attend. Although Meursault does not remember his mother as religious, per her request, there is an all-night vigil held for her. During this vigil, Meursault thinks very little about his mother. Instead, he notices the people in the room, he makes crude observations about them, and he sleeps. These actions are not commonplace at a vigil for ones mother.

The next day is the funeral. The funeral is yet another formality. As Meursault is on the trip to the cemetery, he takes notice of his mother’s dear friend, a friend he has never met. Meursault notices how this friend is constantly falling behind the hearse during the ride. Despite his observations, he does not do anything to help the man or solicit help from others. As for the funeral, he does not seem to feel anything regarding the loss of his mother. In fact, he does not shed a tear. He makes a few random observations, such as, “Then there was the church and the villagers on the sidewalks the red geraniums on the graves in the cemetery ” etc. and that is all that he says about the funeral. Meursault talks nothing about how he loved his mother, or how much he missed her, but talks of the noises he hears and the joy he feels when he gets home.

When Meursault returns, his outlook on life is no different then before. He seems to do whatever he wishes to do at any particular time. A good example of that is with Marie, a former typist in his office for whom he used to have feelings. When he sees her again, he is instantly drawn towards her. Right away, the two of them have a good relationship. They begin to see each other in a traditional manner. Then one day Marie asks him if he would marry her. He says that it does not make any difference to him. This was not the kind of answer that Marie was looking for. Later Meursault talks about how he wanted to marry her, but does not tell her. Why does he not tell her? He does not want to. That is the only reason he has.

Along with his somewhat different relationship that he has with Marie, Meursault also has another interesting relationship with his supposed friend Raymond Sintez. Is Raymond really Meursault’s friend? The terms of their friendship are quite interesting. Raymond asks Meursault if he wants to be his “pal”. Meursault says that he will, but does not give it any thought. As soon as Raymond gets Meursault to agree to be his friend, he asks him for a favor. Raymond asks Meursault to help him with a situation with Raymond’s mistress. Meursault examines the situation, but does not appear to care about the fact that he had a mistress or the fact that Raymond beat her. Raymond tells Meursault that he beat her especially bad when he found out that she was cheating on him. Yet, despite all of this information, Meursault helps Raymond to pay the mistress back and acts as a witness when Raymond’s actions are less than desirable. Most people would be morally outraged by Raymond’s actions; Meursault thinks nothing of them.

Although they have an unusual type of friendship, Meursault decides that he and Marie will go to the beach with Raymond, to see Raymond’s friend. While at the beach, Meursault, Raymond and Raymond’s friend (Masson) encounter two Arabs. Consequently, one of the Arabs is the brother of Raymond’s mistress. In this first encounter, one Arab pulls a knife and is able to attack Raymond. All of these events happen while Meursault stands back and watches. He does nothing and he says nothing to come to the assistance of his “friend”. This action would not be taken by most anyone. The next time they meet, the events happen a little differently. This time, only Meursault encounters the brother of the mistress. Starting far apart, Meursault moves closer. As he approaches, the Arab pulls his knife. In all the heat and excitement Meursault shoots him. Afterwards Meursault thinks nothing of the crime he has just committed. He actually shoots the Arab four more times.

After the murder of the Arab, Meursault is arrested and brought to trial. During the trial, Meursault is forced to stay in prison. In prison, Meursault only has one problem. For him, it is killing time that he has trouble with. In order to kill time, he starts doing something that he has never really done before, remember. While in prison, Meursault begins to think about all the details of his life. He does not worry about what is going to happen to him, he even refuses to see the chaplain three times. The prosecutor tries to use Meursault’s behavior against him. He says that Meursault feels no remorse for the murder. Witnesses such as Marie and the caretaker are called to help prove his point. At the end of each day, unlike most men who are on trial for their lives, Meursault still does not worry about what was going to happen to him. He just makes his random observations and continues with his life.

Meursault is not necessarily a bad person. He may not fit the mold of what an average person is expected to be like. He is however, original. To understand Meursault, one must first lean to accept who he is. He does not intend to upset anyone by his actions. He simply says and does as he feels. Once one can understand him, he realizes that Meursault is just trying to get through life like anyone else. As for the years to come, there will always be people similar to Meursault. These people are individuals who simply refuse to play the game.


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