Essay On The Stranger Essay, Research Paper
In .The Stranger x, Albert Camus misleadingly portrays his existentialistic views of life, death, and the world. Camus portrays the world as .absurd x or without purpose Meaursalt, who, as a reflection of Camus, is foreign and indifferent to his own life and death. Meaursalt eventually senses guilt for his crime, not because of the remorse of taking someone else s life, but because it means he would lose the little things that he considers important in his life. Meaursalt is a puzzling character, who leaves readers to be uncertain about Camus views of life.
Meaursalt is a simple and ordinary man living in French Morocco. Neither intellectual nor emotional, when his mother died, he did not feel or show any sorrow. He is a character rather distracted by his surrounding, such as people walking by and nature. He would feel much irritation whenever the sun would shine red and bright. On a thoughtless walk on the beach, he ends up killing an Arab (who had a hostile relationship with his friend) for no apparent reason, but because his [Arab] blade light reflected by the sun. In addition, for no good reason he shoots four more times, the body lying on the ground. He is tried in court, during which he feels he is his own spectator. Meaursalt gets convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Before execution, he feels guilt for the first time because he would miss the simple things in life. However, he is never scared to die, because for him death comes eventually. Just before the execution, a chaplain tries to make him believe in God, but Meaursalt angrily defends his atheistic views.
Meaursalt is an uncommon character who prefers simplicity. Readers could find him too simple and even completely apathetic of life. He is an atheist, which means he does not concern himself about the afterlife. He is not immoral or moral, but amoral. There is no good or evil, because it is meaningless for Meaursalt. He has a job, a girlfriend, friends, and the things an average person has. But he is without meaning, which reflects his indifference to emotions, such as the reaction to his mother s death. His thought was that he would go back to work and that nothing would change. When his boss offers him a position in Paris, Meaursalt answers, .People can never change their lives, that in any case one life was good as another I wasn t dissatisfied with mine here at all x (41). When his girlfriend Marie suggests marriage, he says .yes x because marriage would not make any difference in his life.
The sun is a major symbol in the novel. Meaursalt despises the heat of the bright red sun. The sun is Meaursalt s nemesis, because it symbolizes destruction and violence. He describes heat as .inhuman and oppressive x (15). During the murder trial, the prosecutor questions why he shot the victim four additional times. It wasn t because of a grudge against the Arab, but because the knife the Arab held reflected light. As Meaursalt would prefer, by chance he shot the victim. It could be argued that he had no intention to shoot a dead person multiple times. Perhaps, he was aiming at the burning sand.
Camus portrays Meaursalt as a person who finds no meaning in life and doesn t bother to find it either. His actions could enable readers to perceive Meaursalt as a meaningless person. When he sits across some elders in a dim room during his mother s vigil and when he is in trial, both symbolize his judgement. In both cases he is indifferent. He does not understand why the elders mourn. He is even a spectator in his own trial, at times reminding himself that he is a murderer in trial. However, as an atheist, is it normal that he feels no remorse and emotions? Perhaps the scene of the vigil portrays not the mourning of his mother, but Meaursalt? Maybe the mourning symbolizes a plea of a man who is too meaningless in all dimensions to at least appreciate life. Indeed, his mother s casket that stood between Meaursalt and the elders foreshadows Meaursalt s death and his spiritual death.
Camus presents an allegory of an absurd world. He attempted to make readers pity Meaursalt. Perhaps through the simply told life of Meaursalt, Camus suggests that life itself is meaningless. In Camus essay, the Absurd Man, he states that an absurd man .does nothing for the eternal, x but that .he prefers his courage and his reasoning. x Meaursalt is an absurd man, because . he shields from any judgment but his own. A greater life for him cannot mean another life x (Camus. The Absurd Man). Some can forgive Meaursalt, an absurd man, but for some, Camus ambiguous presentation of life may only impose a Meaursalt as a thoughtless and self-centered lost man. Perhaps Camus attempted to show the most extreme, yet the simplest conscience of an absurd man.
Albert Camus is originally from Algeria where he worked as a journalist. Later he moved to Paris during World War II. There he worked for the Combat resistance network and was editor for the ongoing Combat in Paris. He saw the chaos daily and during this time, he wrote his main works on absurdity. This experience is probably what prompted Camus to create Meaursalt. In Paris, he discovered that the bottom line of life is that it is meaningless. It is concluded by the fact that death for him is something that has to take place. This explains the indifference Meaursalt feels, because death was only a matter of time. A war-torn world of death and poverty could only encourage such beliefs that Camus had.
Camus is known as prominent modern existentialist. Existentialism possesses many vague meanings, just like Camus ambiguity in the novel. The basic theme of existentialism is the stress on individual existence and the resulting individual freedom and choice. Existentialists believe that there is no objective and rational basis for decisions. Camus perhaps is sending a message that decisions should be made based on an individual s perception of good and wrong, not based on what is moral or not according to society . Also, he might be sending a message that morality should be based on how people actually behave, and not on an ideal standard how people should behave (moral relativism). For Meaursalt, it could be that it isn t so bad to murder. He sees the world differently and regards human life no more or less than a dog. Above all, however, Meaursalt accepts the consequences of his actions.
Eventually, Meaursalt shows guilt. Even then, it is confusing to say if he is sorry or not, because he shows no emotion at all. It could be perceived that his guilt grows not because of the remorse of taking another life, but the loss he would suffer. Yes, it is told that life is meaningless, but is it really? He was .annoyed in jail, x but he wasn t angry. He was annoyed because he did not have the freedom to .feel happy, x (97). His nights of .easy, dreamless sleep x, which made him .perfectly content x were no longer his (97). The paths that he uses only leads to the prison cell. ” for the first time; in that night [before his execution day] alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world x (122). Meaursalt claims he feels guilt and that he opens up a little. However, it is difficult to even guess what s inside this man. He did try to see the world anew. He forces himself .to find something interesting x about the sky and tried to create imaginations. Yet nothing really changes. He had faith in himself and his experiences. He realizes that he shouldn t try to be anything more than himself, because that is who he is. .I would end up telling myself that the most important thing was not to hold back at myself x (113).
Readers perceptions of Meaursalt really depends on their beliefs in life. Regarding him as an .anti-Christ x probably can help understand Meaursalt. The novel shows that there is no afterlife, there is no evil and good. Christianity firmly believes that there is only evil and good and that there is an afterlife whether it is heaven or hell. For Meaursalt there is only one life in any state, so it should be his. A person without a creator or eternal destiny is a person without a cause. .Throughout the whole absurd life I ve lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living x (121). Nothing matters. One could attempt to create his own meaning, but as Meaursalt s experience shows, the meaning of life cannot be the creation of man.
This novel was easy to read and I understood Meaursalt, and could even relate to him somewhat. But I definitely do not accept his values. Any criticism of a novel dealing with the search of the meaning of life is dangerous, because it is a sensitive issue. Let alone, this novel claims that life is meaningless. For me, Meaursalt is an absurd man, literally. This novel is regarded as a very important modern piece and I could see why. I m not really fond of the question, .What is the meaning of life? x I m not sure whether to say it is objective or subjective. The novel itself is a puzzle to me and I m not in any pursuit to figure it out. I m not refusing to, but I find no point in doing so. The same way Meaursalt treats life as meaningless, I treat it the same way, but that life is meaningful. We don t need to go searching too hard that in the process we give up on life, as I see Meaursalt as. I think you could have a meaningful life without knowing the meaning. I can t accept Meaursalt values, because I do believe in a God and an afterlife. That is the difference between him and me. I would not recommend this book to anybody who is in the process of soul searching. It is a confusing yet an unique story to be regarded only as Camus point of view of life.