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Stranger And Meursault

.. mothers age proves to be outrageous when compared to the average human beings social and moral standards. But the fact is Meursault is not the average human being. Helene Poplyansky beautifully explained this when she said: Meursault is far from social convention or intellectual problems; what counts for him are his own sensations and desires. He is an outsider not only for others but also for himself.

He looks at himself without trying to analyze his actions and their consequences. (Poplyansky 80) By acting the way he did, Meursault almost forced his image as a stranger upon himself. Also, the closest thing to a friend that Meursault had was Raymond. Initially, Raymond appeared as a crude man without any morals, comparable to Meursault at times, and he behaved in an absurd manner. Yet, he attempted to create a bond with Meursault and some could say that Meursault accepted it, I however do not. From the first time Raymond appeared in the novel Meursault seemed uneasy to Raymonds motives, as if he didnt trust him.

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This feeling never went away either. Even though the two did spend time together and Meursault did him a favor by writing him a letter, Meursault always seemed to never truly consider his friendship. Not only was Meursault unable to show any signs of emotion with women, he is unable to show any signs of emotion to his somewhat of a companion. Meursaults final interaction with the chaplain showed how Meursault was unable to connect with and understand others perspectives. Meursault did enjoy their meetings, but only because he had no other contact with the outside world; he only wanted to be entertained instead of sharing any sort of friendship.

The difference between Meursault and the rest of society, courtesy of the chaplain, became blatantly clear when he and the chaplain discussed their views of after life and religion. Meursault never thought that the way in which he was living was wrong or even sinful and that is what set him apart from every other human being. His lack of awareness and ignorance for social values appeared in chapter five, when the chaplain said: More could be asked of you. And it may be asked. And whats that? You could be asked to see.

See what? (Camus 118) The chaplain was only asking Meursault to try and understand where he was coming from and what he believed in. Religion never played a role in Meursaults life and he was too stubborn to try and be open-minded about it. His stubborn attitude and close-mindedness never permitted him to even understand where others were coming form, he didnt have to accept it but he could have at least given others beliefs a chance. You could even say Meursault was blind in a sense that he never opened up so that he could get along with others. He always saw life in a totally different perspective than everyone else and could never be rationed with. The obvious difference between Meursault and others became clear when the chaplain explained to Meursault that the stones on the walls in his cell appeared as the face of God and salvation.

Meursault responded by saying: This perked me up a little. I said I had been looking at the stones in those walls for months. There wasnt anything or anyone in the world I knew better. Maybe at one time, way back, I had searched for a face in them. But the face I was looking for was as bright as the sun and the flame of desire and it belonged to Marie.

I had searched for it in vain. Now it was all over. And in any case, Id never seen anything emerge from any sweating stones. (119) The chaplains perspective of the stone walls in Meursaults cell was totally different from what Meursault perceived them as, and within those lines it symbolized Meursaults and societys conflicting views. The cell represented society and the stones represented the people within Meursaults life.

He lived his entire life around those stones and had never seen any faces like the chaplain had. The only face he was looking for was Maries, or, in actuality, lust. He lived his life pursuing his desires and it eventually led him to the cell. But how Meursault didnt see the faces represented him as a total stranger to society because society was the faces, symbolically speaking. Meursaults own perception of his life and society is only half of the evidence that proved him to be the stranger. Society too had their perceptions of him and it also left us with the same conclusion, that Meursault was the stranger.

Meursault did live his life on his own and never depended on others for anything, but the fact remains that he left a lasting impression on those whom he encountered. During Meursaults trial, the prosecutor basically reviewed all of societys impressions of Meursault and how he was a self-absorbed bastard. He constantly accused Meursault of being inconsiderate and cold-hearted by bringing up instances in his life that had nothing to do with the actual shooting. Stephen Bronner also stated: Meursault is innocent of the crimes for which he is actually sentenced and guilty of what is essentially ignored (Bronner, Portrait 34) This proves how Meursaults previous actions of indifference even caused the prosecutor to portray him as an evil person. The prosecutor molded an image of Meursault that appeared as if he was the devil incarnate, and he made it seem as if Meursault intentionally set out to cause pain and anguish, when really Meursaults only crime was ignorance. It was as if he intentionally set out to cause others pain and anguish, when really Meursaults only crime was that of ignorance.

Yes he was inconsiderate, but the fact is that he didnt know any better and no one is able to change that without the help from others. People perceived Meursault as though he didnt care about their feelings, causing him to be labeled as a horrible person. Another contributing factor to societys perception of Meursault was his quiet nature. Meursault did not speak unless he feels it was totally necessary, and even then he sometimes will still keep to himself. Other people expect reactions out of people in social interactions and when they dont receive one, what are they supposed to assume? In this case, people saw his quiet nature as an insult and refuse to understand his true nature.

Meursaults removed himself from a lot of lifes complications and tried to live the most simple life possible. Unlike the rest of society, he didnt bother with things that required effort, which seemed as if he didnt like to express himself. However, a lot can be misunderstood from silence. Meursaults silence appeared as ignorance, yet, Jean Paul Sartre stated: A mans virility lies more in what he keeps to himself than in what he says.(Sartre 3) His silence didnt represent insecurity or a lack of consideration. How are others to know what someone else is really thinking? Meursaults appearance to society was judged from the wrong criteria.

People overlooked what his true personality was and what his true intentions were, causing him to appear as an unwanted stranger. Meursaults character and interactions throughout the novel can only make a person wonder about his motives even though we, the reader, think we have a insight over the society that he lived in. All of Meursaults problems and complications were all because of his appearance as a stranger, which he caused through his ignorance of social conventions. Yet, it makes me wonder why are strangers always seen as unwanted and why does a natural fear of them arise? The fact is that strangers are labeled and in some way disrupt a persons environment. What a person can not understand makes them defensive, and when a person is defensive they scrutinize what they dont understand, only to make themselves feel better.

Meursault fits the bill for this because when something goes wrong, for example the shooting, someone needs to be blamed, and no better person than a stranger, Meursault, to take the fall. Also, since Meursault was so oblivious to others, I realized that the possibility of Meursault not having a father figure around could have been a cause of some of his problems. The absence of a father causes a child to grow up differently from most of society, which usually does grow up with a father, and it creates the question, is the father to blame? We assume not, but since Meursault is definitely an odd character it makes us wonder. Meursault lived his life different from any other, never aware of others and completely focused on his personal satisfaction. Yet, after understanding his mentality and motivations that caused people to label him as a stranger, he can not be totally blamed for his actions.

I am not saying that the way Meursault lived his life was justified nor were his actions because he did live a self-centered life. What I am saying is that his true crime was ignorance. Meursault was almost like a young child that was never taught right from wrong and how to be considerate of others. He never deliberately set out to cause harm or pain on anyone, he just didnt know any better. Yet, Meursault was given a chance to realize how he lived his life was wrong only after his judgement. He understood that what he had done was wrong and that every action has a consequence, and his consequence was death.

The only shame in the matter is that society is just as responsible as he is because they should have taken the responsibility of teaching him social values and even morals. Meursault deserved to be punished for his actions, but being put to death is never justified for being inconsiderate. Now, his fate would never leave him, but neither would his past. So, Meursaults actions could not be erased from time and his appearance as the actual stranger to society that is something he can never change. Justified or unjustified, Meursault will always be the stranger. Bibliography Bronner, Stephen Eric Albert Camus: The Thinker, The Artist, The Man. Groiler Publishing Co., Inc., 1996 —. Camus: Portrait of a Moralist.

Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999 Camus, Albert The Stranger. New York: Random, 1988 Carruth, Hayden After the Stranger: Imaginary Dialogues with Camus. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1965 Poplyansky, Helene. Camuss LEtranger: Fifty Years On. New York: St. Martins Press, Inc., 1992 Sartre, Jean-Paul.

An Explication of The Stranger Prentice Hall, Inc., 1962 Strange, Alice J. Camus The Stranger. The Explicator (1997): 36-37.


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