Character Analysis of Meursault in the novel The Outsider In the novel “The Outsider” written by Albert Camus, Meursault is a character that is detached and unemotional as he gives no importance to anything and he recognizes the world around him through his senses. All through part one of the novel, Meursault does not really explain his characteristics therefore Camus explains his character instead of giving away his physical description. The language used is very simple and direct, which allows the reader to understand the situation.
Camus has showed Meursault to be a person who has lack of emotions, which causes, him not be a part of society. The tone used by Camus allows the reader to have a better understanding of the environment that he belongs in, by using a lot of imagery to explain it all. Camus uses imagery to portray life and death, which is the main theme of the novel. The mood of the first part of the novel is very calm yet confusing as one who is reading the novel would not be able to relate to it, as not everyone is familiar with a character like Meursault.
Symbols such as guilt, journey, death and meaning have been shown several times all through the novel.
Meursault is a character that does not say much all through the novel, there are very few incidents when he is actually saying anything. When Meursault says something, it is very short and to the point, which allows him to be very straightforward, like “yes”(pg. 21) and “ yesterday” (pg. 24). As this novel is written in first person, one would predict there to be a lot of speech. However this novel does not does not contain much speech as if it did then the character would be giving meaning to the event which is what the author does not intend to do so.
Though actions speak louder than words, he, the character, acts in a different manner without thinking that is unusual to society. He is expected to behave in a certain manner, which he does not; therefore people look of him to be peculiar. He does what a normal man like him would do, work and go to the movies, “ The film was funny…”(pg. 24), enjoy at the beach with his friends, eat and enjoy his Sunday’s with himself. This does not look unfamiliar as many men spend their week just the way Meursault does. Camus is a very creative author, as it is not very easy to use imagery in a piece of literature.
The character does not say anything but instead he senses the world around him, and this happens with the imagery used by Camus all through the first part of the novel. The imagery used, is very interesting as it has an indirect link to the theme of the novel, “ the coachman’s boiled leather hat looked as if it had been moulded out of the same black mud. ”(pg. 21) This means that the hat of the coachman’s was made of leather, which is animal’s skin, for this the animal had to be dead for one to wear its leather.
The use of moulded out of the same black mud means that mud absorbs a heavy object and sinks in which mean that slowly life is sinking to death. While using imagery, the author also uses symbols to explain the plot even better. With the help of symbols Camus allows the readers to understand Meursault and his actions. He uses day and night as a symbol of life and death, he uses sleep at the end of most of the chapters in part one of the novel as an indicate to a temporary death “I went to bed…”(pg. 42) he uses words like afternoon to show that he is in the middle of his life “…get there in the afternoon” (pg. ) and also he uses doors to show the obstacles in life that opens up. Camus mentions more about doors shutting than opening, which therefore led the readers to notice that Meursault is running out of doors to escape death, “ he led the way to the door” (pg. 11). Guilt is also a symbol used by Camus several times through the first part of the novel, indirectly Meursault feels the guilt building in him though he does not accept it by saying“ It’s not my fault” (pg. 9); a few times. Meursault uses this phrase when he wants to take leave from his work to attend his mother’s funeral.
All these examples show that Meursault is forced to fell guilty by society, as he needs to follow the rules of his society to be in it. All the imagery and symbols used in the first part of the book show a path to death. Other figurative language that has been used by Camus in, The Outsider is the use of tone. Camus uses a very calm tone, which allows the readers to have a better understanding of the environment. He also uses short and abrupt sentences to show the importance of the event, by using short abrupt sentences he shows that nothing matters; that be his mother’s death also, “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know”(pg. ). This shows that it does not matter if his mother died or not because one day or the other she was going to die like everyone else. All through the first part of the novel the only time Camus mentions when Meursault actually feels an emotion is while he was swimming and he says, “ I was glad to be swimming”(pg. 52). In addition to tone Camus also uses mood to show the atmosphere around Meursault. Camus mention’s words like black and the sun bursting when it is not a very pleasant area that Meursault is not very comfortable in, “The sun was crashing down onto the sea and the sand and shattering into little pieces” (pg. 56).
This shows how Camus is showing that the mood of the novel is very negative. Rather than enjoying on the beach he is more concentrated more on the heat. Camus uses diction in his writing by not using adjectives; he does not describe anything by giving it any detail because if he did give any detail it would show that Meursault is giving meaning to life, which is not what Camus wants to show “I am hungry”(pg. 18). In conclusion, Camus uses imagery, symbol, mood, tone and diction to show the readers the character of Meursault. Symbols such as guilt, journey, death and meaning have been shown several times all through the novel.
Camus shows Meursault to be a man who existentialist and believe that life is a journey (going for mothers funeral, funeral is an event which takes place on one’s death (pg. 9)) through observable sensory (looking at sharp images of objects in a room which hurts his eyes (pg. 15)) meaningless (when Marie asks Meursault to marry her (pg. 44)), random chances (meeting Salamano at a random time (pg. 30)) events culminating to death (showing temporary death through sleep and the death of Salamano and his dogs relationship as the dog ran away(pg. 22)).
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