Camus Essay, Research Paper
The Stranger by Albert Camus is one of the more interesting novellas I have read recently. The first thing that struck me about the book was when I was on page 8 and I realized that everything was in the first person. I thought this was going to be a problem for me but it turned out that it was like one of those movies that have the black line across the top and bottom of the screen, at first I felt it would wreck the whole book, but after the first chapter, I did not even notice. Camus paints a man who struck me to have several of the same qualities as Melville s Bartlby The Scrivener. The main character Maursault has a sort of an aloof take on life, or it would seem. He describes his life and gives a basic setting for the story. Maursault is the type that is upset by the things in life that everyone else can deal with. Things like the sun, the heat, reflection, and other people talking are things that get under his skin. He is however not upset by things like his mother s death, his friend putting a beating on his woman, and his charge of murder.
In this way he parallels Bartelby because neither seems to care what happens to them and neither seems to be bothered by anything of magnitude. Bartelby reaches a point in his life where he does not feel like doing anything and simply uses the statement I would prefer not to when he is asked to do anything by his boss. He does not adhere to the guidelines of his job and is subsequently fired. He refuses to stop coming to work and is put in jail. Bartelby essentially starves to death because he has completely lost the will to live.
Meursault has not completely lost the will to live, but he has lost the will to adhere to the social dogma. Not because he is an out and out wild man who robs banks, but he like Bartelby, rebels in a very quiet way. Everything that Maursautl takes pleasure in is of a very basic, almost primal nature. He enjoys the food at Celeste s restaurant, he enjoys making love to his girlfriend, and he enjoys the sun and surf. He is content as long as these simple pleasures are not taken away from him. Even when he is at his mother s funeral, the things that bother him the most are the walk to the Vigil, the whistling of an old mans nose, and the tapping of their canes on the ground. He is not bothered at all by the fact that his mother is dead. He does not even show any inkling of sadness. He sits and waits for the time to pass and occupies himself with his own petty thoughts never once reflecting on his life and what it will be like to loose a mother. On the opposite side of the coin, the only things that bring him any happiness in the whole chapter are the cigarettes and coffee that he shares with one of the caretakers. Only things, which bring him quick pleasure, are held in regards with Maursault.
On the evening following the funeral, he comes home and sleeps for twelve hours. He then goes on a date with his girlfriend Marie. He tells her of the death of his mother, but dismisses the thought as simple as that. He shows no sorrow about his mother s death and indeed doesn t spend any time remorse; he simply goes on with his life because that is what is most convenient for him to do. If something does not bring Maursalt instant gratification or if it does not hold hope for gratification in the very near future, he will have no interest in it and can also become very agitated with things, which don t bring him joy.
While he is in his neighbors Raymond s house he is enjoying food wine and cigarettes, this keeps him content until his neighbor keeps rattling on about his own life, Maursalt becomes discontented and yearns for him to change the subject. He shows no feeling of guilt when his neighbor Salamano looses his dog and does not offer to keep his eye out for him. He shows even less feeling when his neighbor is badly beating his girlfriend in front of him and Marie. He even helps his neighbor lure her into the trap, which was set. If he had shown any bad feelings at this point at all it was due to the fact that the beating put a damper on his lovemaking. Maursalt goes with his neighbor to the police station and lies about what happened. This gesture seals the friendship in Raymond s mind, but could really not mean less to Maursault. In his mind, being friends with the neighbor is convenient because he is introduced to some of the friends that live at the beach. This summerhouse is the place that the elements overcome Maursaul and he ends up committing the act of murder. In my opinion the crime was not committed because he hated the Arab, or he was upset Raymond was badly wounded, I think he was simply upset because the Arabs were causing a hitch in his good time and he is not the type of person that would stand for that. If something gets in his way in the past, he would either go to sleep or ignore it. The Arabs were not something he could look the other way on, he needed to address the situation at hand and he felt going to the utmost extremes to deal with the problem was the best way to deal with it. Even in jail, he shows no remorse about what he did. Maursault lives each day in jail as he would have lived it on the outside, with the exception that he does not get to indulge in the pleasures of life. Maursault adapts to the situation and takes his life one day at a time. He lives his life only in the present. Marie visits him in the beginning and tries to offer him some hope but it is to no avail because Maursault cannot grasp anything beyond what he is experiencing now. He does not feel anything when she tells him that he will be free and someday they will be able to marry. Most men would love to have a beautiful woman pining after them, and offering reassurance, but Maursault does not. He is simply a selfish man.
After the trial has ended Maursault begins to realize his own fate. He still does not feel bad about what he did or wish he had acted differently in the courtroom. His actions did nothing to help his chances at freedom. He was too stubborn to even fake remorse in order to win the jury over or at least lighten his sentence. His honest ways are commendable; they do however limit his chance at sympathy. In the end the Priest comes to help Maursault, but it is too late. He is set in his ways and the future is determined for him. He will not allow the Priest to talk to him and what he is saying agitates him. In Maursault’s mind, the Priest is simply babbling and taking up some of his last minuets. He acts out, further distancing himself from society and the reader s sympathy. The story ends on the eve that Maursault is to be put to death. He reflects on his life and says he would do it all again. In a final statement Maursault says that he hopes there is a large crowd to shout and hate him when he is put to death, and I feel that they definitely would be.