The Stranger Essay Research Paper AnalysisUpon reading

The Stranger Essay, Research Paper


Upon reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, and Uncle Tom s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe , one can easily note the similar situations that face the protagonists. All three have the burden of oppression to bear. Yet what separates Meursault, Rubashov, and Tom is the way that each chooses to handle his dilemma. It is not hard to see that Tom s optimistic outlook on life as a result of his hope in God and the afterlife allow him to overcome where Meursault and Rubashov s pessimistic outlooks force them to be overcome.

By definition, a sociopath is one who does wrong and knows it, but feels no shame or remorse. This is precisely who Meursault is. And Camus displays this very blatantly: In the same weary tone he asked me a last question: Did I regret what I had done? After thinking a bit, I said that what I felt was less regret than a kind of vexation I couldn t find a better word for it (87;Part 2:ch.1).

Now Meursault takes quite a unique approach to dealing with his problem. One who is innocent fights to clear his name and avoid his undeserved fate. One who is remorseful works to correct his error and make things right again. Yet, Meursault is neither innocent nor remorseful. What he does is simply adjust and begin to accept his new life in prison while he awaits his execution. He has no hope for anything after he is dead. So he just learns to accept his punishment and live out the rest of his meaningless existence until he is brought to the guillotine.

Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov is a revolutionary. He has dedicated his life to bringing about freedom to his homeland. The Party to which he belongs has been gaining ground in their efforts against the established government. Things seem to be going well for Rubashov, as he is one of the most influential and noted members of the Party. But then the situation begins to dissipate. As a young, new generation of Party members comes to power, they begin to move away from the ideas and goals of the Party. No longer does the Party seem to be concerned with the idea of liberating their fellow countrymen. Realizing the amount of power and influence that they have over the uneducated masses, the Party moves towards assuming the role of the tyrannical government that it replaced. A Time Magazine review of Darkness at Noon states this point well: Darkness at Noon demonstrated how the sin of pride can convert pity for mankind into the power for action against man (Time 170).

With Rubashov, as it was with Meursault, there is no indication that he has a hope for the afterlife. As a result of this, his situation takes quite a toll on his spirits. And that isn t very surprising. Anyone who is oppressed to the magnitude that Rubashov is oppressed and has no hope in anything solid to keep them going is probably better off dead. And that is precisely the fate that Rubashov meets.

In comparing Meursault, Rubashov, and Tom, Tom really stands out for many reasons. First of all, Tom never did anything to deserve all that he has been through. He never killed anyone nor did he decide to oppose the government. What made Tom a victim of oppression was simply the color of his skin. Having been born a slave, he faced with a life of difficulties from the start. Although he never knew incarceration, he never knew freedom either. But one thing Tom did know and that was God. He knew that he was going to a much better place upon his death and that made it somewhat easier to deal with his dilemma. When Tom knew that he was going to be sold and separated from his loved ones, he made this statement that illustrates that point quite well: I m in the Lord s hands, said Tom; nothin can go no furder than He lets it; and thar s one thing I can thank Him for. It s me that s sold and going down, and not you nur the chil en. Here you re safe;–what comes will come only on me; and the Lord, He ll help me,–I know He will (92;ch. 10).

Another powerful characteristic of Tom that separates him from Meursault and Rubashov is his optimism during the hardest of times. Faced with issues that would make many people fold and have a breakdown, Tom is one who perseveres. Simon Legree is a ruthless slaveowner who puts Tom through some of the most difficult times in his life. After being sold to Legree, severe beatings become sort of commonplace for Tom. And as these beatings finally bring Tom to his deathbed, he still clung dearly to his faith. A sudden sinking fell upon him; he closed his eyes; and that mysterious and sublime change passed over his face, that told the approach of other worlds. He began to draw his breath with long, deep inspirations; and his broad chest rose and fell, heavily. The expression of his face was that of a conqueror. Who who,–who shall separate us from the love of Christ? he said, in a voice that contended with mortal weakness; and, with a smile, he fell asleep.

Works Cited

Request for Survival . Time 1 March 1968: 85-86. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary

Criticism. Ed. Carolyn Riley. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1973. 170.

Burgess, Anthony. The Novel Now: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction. New York:

Norton & Co., Inc.; 1967. 107-108. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary

Criticism. Ed. Carolyn Riley. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1973. 170.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1946.

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