The Stranger 2 Essay, Research Paper
Albert Camus The Stranger is about the life of a very complex character named Meursault. Meursault is a very stolid person who is not given to shows of emotions. He remains this way through most of the book, but towards the end, he starts to become more feeling. He is what would be considered an existentialist a person who relies on their own experience and reason, does not defy authority, and has no feelings. Meursault Metamorphosis from an unfeeling and uncaring person in part one, is evidence through his change in attitude towards authority his efforts to develop meaningful relationships, and his newly discovered ability to think, to imagine, and to remember the post and relate it to the present.
Meursault s attitude in part one changes dramatically in part two with his feelings and attitude towards authority and others. In the opening scene of the book, the reader finds that Maman died today. Or Yesterday Maybe, I don t know. These are the fist hints about Meursault s character; they show him to be almost unfeeling. He feels the need to apologize for things that are out of his control, and to thank people for things that they had nothing to do with. He apologizes to his boss when he asks for two days off work to go to the vigil and funeral and he does not want to pay his last respects. To please the Director he agrees to everything the director says even when he told Meursault that his mother wanted a religious burial with a priest he said nothing, knowing his mother was not of the religious type, and tries to justify his reasoning for putting her in the home. When the officer confronts Raymond after beating on his Arab mistress, Meursault stays his distance and tells Marie that he doesn t like the police . He does these things to avoid authority and stay out of their way. In part, two his attitude towards authority begins to change and his avoidance of authority diminishes. He defies authority when he repeatedly disagrees with the magistrate and chaplain as they try to make him believe in God, and question him about his mother and the reason he paused between the second and third shot. He also shows changes within the relationships he wants to or make with authority figures such as the cell guard, the reporter, his lawyer, and the jury. From part one to part two Meursault s feelings and attitude towards authority and others seems to change for the better even though he still shows some features of a protagonist.
Meursault believes romance is romance is fallacy, doesn t understand what it is and thinks that it is meaningless in chapter one, then in chapter two his efforts to develop meaningful relationships portrays his transformation from uncaring to the ability to love. Throughout the book whenever questions of his mother around he tried to avoid or not answer them for examples the instance with the caretaker Meursault told him he did not want to see his mother, for the burial he did not want to pay his last respects. When he was arrested and being questioned by the magistrate, he avoided questions about his mother by saying, what does this have to do with my case , and even in court he hesitates to answer the question did he love his mother. These images portray Meursault s lack of love to relationships even with his own Mother. When Marie his mistress, asks him if he loves her, he replies that he does not think it means anything, but I don t think so, later on she asks him again and his reply is still the same. Soon after she asks him if he wants to marry her and being very nonchalant about; instead of saying a definite yes or no, he says that it is up to her, if you want us to be married, then he will go along with it. Once again showing his lack of love and his misunderstanding of what a relationship should be. To be even more blunt when he kills the Arab, he describes the feeling as only knocking four quick times at the door of unhappiness, something relatively mild on the scale of emotions. As part two unfolds, the reader begins to see Meursault s change in his efforts to develop meaningful relationships, which he is more involved in and in which he share his feelings and views. He shows these changes with many of the characters such as Marie, as he lusts for her to be in his arms again on the beach to express his love for he. With Celeste he wants to show gratitude, these confrontations shows that he is experiencing emotion; and even though he doesn t usually feel it, or maybe act on it, that its still there. He recalls Raymond and a few others such as Solomon and more calling him friend; the reporter outside the courthouse he wants to thank and shake his hand for looking into and the publicity of Meursault s case. In one instance he comments that he wants to kiss the man, and that this is the first time I have ever had this feeling. Meursault and the Jailer engage in meaningful and exciting conversations, which he looked forward to each day. The Magistrate who he wants to please but cannot give into his views on religion as Meursault also does with the Chaplin. His lawyer whom Meursault whishes could understand him better to represent him. He also wished he could have made a better relationship between him and the prosecutor so he could avoid the questions about his mother. Most of all, his dead mother when he says what I can say for certain is that I would rather maman had not died to the court expressing his love for his mother. He also states that he loves her, which he also says but that still doesn t mean anything which the prosecutor uses against him to get him convicted, not for the murder but the lack of love in the relationship for his mother. It is here he shows a great change in his relationships, when Meursault s emotions almost come through to the surface, when he sates that he feels like crying, which he hasn t felt in years, because he could feel how much everyone there hated him. His development of meaningful relationships, and his newly discovered ability to think, to imagine and to remember the past and relate it to the present which is established in part two seems to have come at an unneeded time, because now that he begins to recall past experiences and develop his feelings his life is being taken away.
His newly discovered ability to think, to imagine, and to remember the pat and relate it to the present takes Meursault to new heights before his execution and gives him a new view on life. Towards the end of the book, he thinks a lot about his death, but not in a negative way, almost in a curious way. He thinks about his father going to witness an execution and tells what he thought after meditating on this: “nothing more important than an execution” that it’s the “only thing a man could truly be interested it.” He wonders what it will feel like to climb the scaffolding up to the guillotine. He believes that the world is indifferent or hostile, and that there really is no point to it. People are born; they live; and they die. “But everybody knows life isn’t worth living…it doesn’t much matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living…we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter. This in some aspects is true. People are all going to die, and others will keep on living but since he doesn’t really feel emotions, he doesn’t think about the pain that death can cause other people, and doesn’t experience it himself. Meursault believes that there is no such thing as human nature. By eliminating emotions, romance, and attachments, not much of what is considered human nature remains. People may choose to do what they wish, as long as they are responsible for their actions and face the consequences. He considers the story of a man being beaten to death by his sister and mother who did not know that it was their relation, “perfectly natural.” This shows that he believes there is a lack of human nature, or at least that he believes in a different human nature than most. Another quote that supports the fact that there is no thing as human nature and that people are unique is when he says about the lawyer “He didn’t understand me, and was sort of holding it against me.”
Meursault is unique but isolated, finds the world to be indifferent or hostile, life to be unexplainable, romance to be fallacy, emotions to be detrimental and absurd; that man has freedom of choice; and that man has to be responsible for his actions. These are all shown in various instances throughout the book. The complexity of this character, trying to figure out what is going through Meursault’s mind, has made the book as popular as it is. There are individuals who, because of different or strange behavior, might be outcasts of society, but find, in spite of or because of their unconventional behavior, that there are some people who want to be a part of their lives. Meursault, an asocial person is such an individual. His behavior, while not truly antisocial, is distant, yet it does not get in the way of certain relationships. While there are some, people who might find such relationships unsatisfying and limited, Meursault and those he is connected to seem to be content with their “friendships”. His aloofness, though, may not have saved him from suffering. It might actually have been the cause of the guilty verdict at his trial for killing the Arab. Withdrawing from involvement with people or life events might not mean total isolation or rejection but it does not necessarily protect an individual from pain or a bad end. Meursault is truly a stranger in his own life. His is caught up in the absurdity of human existence, and is unable to find any sort of meaning in his life. Nothing matters much to him because he realizes that his own mortal existence, as well as everyone else s, will eventually end. His unemotional manner enables him to commit murder set on a sun-drenched Algerian beach, which leads to his execution. Yet through all his negativity Meursault does change maybe not an aspiring change as most would need to see a difference in him, but a change that moves him from the category of a detached person. To a person who seeks out meaningful relationships, interact with authority figures, speak his mind, and can recall past experiences to help him make healthy choices in the present.
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