The story opens with Meursault, a clerk living in Algiers within the 1940s, reading a message stating the passing of his mom. While at the funeral the guests are surprised at his strangely calm behavior. He goes on a date with a woman he hardly met, helps a pimp, and goes to a beach outside of town with both. Meursault and his friend stumble upon some Arabs. A fight breaks out, resulting in Raymond getting cut and Meursault shooting one of them.
In his murder prosecution, the judge appeared slightly more fascinated by Meursault’s emotional detachment over his mother’s passing than his crime. The jury finds Meursault’s character punishable by death. “Camus uncovers an arbitrary, repressive society, epitomized by its courts, that expects the individual to conform automatically to commonly accepted, if undefined, “civilized” norms” (Scherr 5). The main idea links the views of absurdism and existentialism within Meursault’s personality. In this novel, the author questions the meaning of life and its purpose.
Furthermore, the environment is a significant cause of Meursault’s current situation, because his relationships affect his actions.
People treat harshly those who don’t follow rules, and the stranger is a social misfit. In the novel, Meursault is viewed as an alien within the community. Despite this, he reveals he is happy that way and he would relive his life all over again without changing a thing. He would not cry at his mother’s burial, he would shoot the Arab, and he wouldn’t feel guilt for either. The story is set primarily in Meursault’s home, followed by a train ride to a Home he put his mom. ‘The Home for Aged Persons is at Marengo, some fifty miles from Algiers’ (Camus 4). The second setting is at the beach outside of Algiers. “As I slowly walked toward the boulders at the end of the beach I could feel my temples swelling under the impact of the light” (Camus 37). The beach and its vastness depict some freedom that Meursault held, whereas the sealed walls at the courthouse and his prison cell represent the suffocation he endured. These last environments are inside his prison cell and in the Assize Court. “When I came into the room the babel of voices echoing on the bare walls, and the sunlight streaming in, flooding everything in a harsh white glare, made me feel quite dizzy. After the relative darkness and the silence of my cell, it took me some moments to get used to these conditions” (Camus 46). They condemn him not for the murder, but because he doesn’t believe or follow everything most people view to be right. For Meursault, it doesn’t matter whether he is guilty or not because nothing matters. “During the trial, Meursault shows no interest in defending himself, abandoning his fate to the prosecutor and his lawyer” (Heraud 2).
The only important quality in life is existing. The theme is the theory of absurdism which means the universe has no purpose or meaning. This main character does not care what his life comes to, all he wants from life is for it to pass day by day without any major conflicts. “Meursault believes in the meaninglessness of life and he acts accordingly, a thing that makes him feel a ‘stranger’ among his people”(Mahdi 2). He gives the reader his philosophic outlook during his time in his prison. The verdict is guilty he will be sentenced to death. While in his cell, the chaplain starts talking about God, Meursault snaps and grabs the priest by the collar. He yells at him not to waste his prayers. With this priest trying to push God onto him, he believes he has no time for god even in his final hour. Rather than getting mad at his situation, Meursault grows angry by the chaplains’ false sense of entitlement. “I was on the point of telling him to go, and leave me in peace, when all of a sudden he swung round on me and burst out passionately: “No! No! I refuse to believe it. I’m sure you’ve often wished there was an afterlife.” Of course, I had, I told him”(Camus 74).
Meursault is an absurd hero. The main character who embodies the opposite qualities of traditional heroes like bravery, determination, and a strong sense of personal identity. Meursault is a good example of how a character can be a good character but not necessarily likable. He is a hero because he has a unique perspective on life, that enables the reader to question their own. Camus derives his passion from absurdity in that because he will one day die, every moment can’t go unlived. The stranger lives completely detached from everything, dispassionately. I also think he lacked ambition, purpose, and self-knowledge. When a good opportunity came his way, not only did he not know how to grasp it, but also he did not ponder why it did not make him thrilled. “Thus, Camus has perhaps indirectly proved that Meursault is right when he thinks that involving emotionally with others brings no happiness and that showing no emotion at all leads to contentment and peace of mind, but Meursault has not succeeded in shaping this thought properly”(Mahdi 7). Marriage, to him, is of no great importance, just as the exact day on which his mother died is of no great importance. Raymond offered friendship; Marie herself, and now Meursault is offered a new position in Paris. And it all makes no difference, he says; he doesn’t object.
Meursault might technically be brought before this courthouse for murder, but he is actually on trial for his personality, so he will be sentenced to such a crime. “Meursault’s social deviation from his people and his nonconformity to their prevailing ideas, practices, and views are part of his being an absurd man”(Mahdi 2). Meursault’s attitude toward everything in life, especially religion, sent people over the edge. According to Meursault, the sun still shines whether he is dead or not. The main idea implies life has no meaning and no matter what happens, the universe keeps moving on. In the beginning, Meursault is a free man and can travel and go to the beach and wherever he wants, but that changes when he kills a man and he gets locked up jail waiting to be executed. He finds meaning in the hatred and misunderstanding that people put towards him. “For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration” (Camus 76). He wants them to yell hate at his funeral because it is what gave him a purpose for the rest of his life, and it is the reason he is happy.
Cite this The Stranger Is a Social Misfit
The Stranger Is a Social Misfit. (2021, May 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-stranger-is-a-social-misfit/