STRANGER Essay, Research Paper
In Albert Camus novel, The Stranger, the main character Meursault displays a unique indifference to his surroundings and the world around him. It takes him a degree of time to come to terms with his indifference, but when he does he feels truly free from society’s constricting bonds. He leads an apathetic lifestyle that is characterized by his constant lack of a definitive personality. Meursault wanders through life as if in a drunken stupor, living the life of a pleasure seeker. When he accepts his death he is relieved of the pressure of dealing with guilt and with relationships towards other people.
Meursault’s guilt plays a large role in the novel as far as his everyday dealings with his attitude about life in general. Meursault feels guilty about not feeling guilty. He knows when he enters a situation such as when his mother died he should have felt guilt and remorse, but didn’t and therefore his emotional state turned to an apologetic atmosphere. The concept of Meursault feeling apologetic instead of feeling guilty is illustrated when he is asking for time off from his job to go to his mother’s funeral. “Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.” p.1 He was sorry for leaving work and thus he apologized, but then he later reasoned to himself that he knows under the circumstances he had no need to be sorry for asking for a couple days off. Meursault later wishes he reconciled with his mother about sending her to a home. He was sorry for doing it, but director of the home assured him that he had done everything he could have for her in light of his situation. With Meursault working in a town a few hours away by bus he was unable to visit his mother as often as he wanted. He deemed that he should be upset over her death, but realized his getting angered would do no good considering he experienced no true emotion at her funeral.
Meursault deals with others people as if they are only there to please him or they are just taking up his time. As evidenced with his relationship with Marie, Meursault was merely using her for sex because that is what he wanted from her and at that time in his life. He lives from pleasure to pleasure with Marie; he only looks forward to seeing her when he knows he can have sex with her. When visiting day rolls around at the jail he is not as enthusiastic about seeing Marie as you would think he would be after not seeing her for several months. Because he knows he can’t have sex with her, it totally cheapens the moment while she talks to him. Meursault drifts off into space basically ignoring her. For Meursault there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for him if he talks to her, the thrill is gone and thus the pleasure has dried up for him.
When Meursault deals with Raymond, he just plays along with the idea that he is one of his close friends. He only humors Raymond in doing the favors such as writing the letter for him and just hanging around with him. Meursault doesn’t view Raymond as an annoyance only an acquaintance. The force that caused the two to meet formally was Meursault grumbling stomach that caused him to agree to come for a bite to eat in Raymond’s apartment. What keeps Meursault aware that Raymond is one of his friends, is Raymond keeps reminding him. “So we’re pals, ain’t we?’ p.41 To Meursault the utterance of the phrase means nothing, but he just tells Raymond what he wants to hear by saying yes and then moving on in life as if nothing has happened.
When Meursault finally accepts his indifference to the world he feels free because he no longer has to answer to anyone or be annoyed with doing anything that takes him away from his true love of self-pleasure. Meursault lives by and for the moment without regard for the ramifications or consequences of his actions. When his moment of purification by pain occurs he is exhilarated by the energy he feels with the crowd that has gathered to see him lose his life. Before he is beheaded he comes to terms about his life, he deems that now that it’s about to be over he can fulfill his need of achieving ultimate pleasure. I if I were placed in the same circumstance, I would have already come to terms with my own mortality knowing that I was facing death for the crime I had committed. Because I don’t know if I believe in God, I don’t know if would look forward to an afterlife or dread going into nothingness.
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