Thursday, January 23, 2020
The Character of Meursault in The Stranger (The Outsider) :: Camus Stranger Essays
The Character of Meursault in The Stranger Albert Camus wrote The Stranger during the Existentialist movement, which explains why the main character in the novel, Meursault, is characterized as detached and emotionless, two of the aspects of existentialism. In Meursault, Camus creates a character he intends his readers to relate to, because he creates characters placed in realistic situations. He wants the reader to form a changing, ambiguous opinion of Meursault. From what Meursault narrates to the reader in the novel, the reader can understand why he attempts to find order and understanding in a confused and mystifying world. Camus writes in a simple, direct, and uncomplicated style. The choice of language serves well to convey the thoughts of Meursault. The story is told in the first person and traces the development of the narrator's attitude toward himself and the rest of the world. Through this sort of simple grammatical structure, Camus gives the reader the opportunity to become part of the awareness of Meursault. In Part I, what Meursault decides to mention are just concrete facts. He describes objects and people, but makes no attempt to analyze them. Since he makes no effort to analyze things around him, that job is given to the reader. The reader therefore creates his own meaning for Meursault's actions. When he is forced to confront his past and reflect on his experiences, he attempts to understand the reasons for existence. At first, Meursault makes references to his inability to understand what's happening around him, but often what he tells us seems the result of his own indifferen ce or detachment. He is frequently inattentive to his surroundings. His mind wanders in the middle of conversations. Rarely does he make judgments or express opinions about what he or other characters are doing. Meursault walks through life largely unaware of the effect of his actions on others. Meursault is distant from set plans, ambitions, desires, love, and emotions in general. He has a difficult time with emotions such as regret and compassion. The reader sees the nature of his personality in the first few lines of the novel: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." When he hears of the death of his mother through a telegram, he is unattached, and can be considered uncaring.