8 April 2009
Keating vs. Mersault
Rousseau’s quotation, “Man is born free yet, everywhere he is in chains” implies that a person is gifted with great possibilities and potential. Unfortunately, the society surrounding that person is responsible for crushing that individual’s essence. Those who refuse to conform to such a society are judged negatively and consequently, feel alienated. Both Keating and Meursault are strangers in a society that wants to dictate their expected behaviour and actions. Society seeks to imprison their individual freedom. Meursault is indifferent and passive to this conventional life that is not worth living. He refuses to be anything but himself, regardless of the price he must pay. In contrast, Keating responds to such a society by actively and passionately trying to make a difference by nurturing each person to be free to reach his or her potential and essence. Society seeks to chain these two free individuals into conforming to ways that stifle their individuality and freedom, but the key lies in their choice of response in dealing with such a society, regardless of its negative judgement. Both Keating and Meursault distinguish themselves from the masses that seek to chain their spirit. Meursault is an outsider who feels very removed from his surroundings. His reactions are very different from the conventional norms and society judges him negatively. The prosecutor describes him as a man “whose heart is so empty that it forms a chasm which threatens to engulf society” (The Outsider, 98). Meursault shows no emotion at his mother’s funeral. He is indifferent to the idea of marriage to Marie, to the possibility of a job position in Paris, as well as to his verdict of the death penalty. Meursault is judged to be an anti-Christ because he chooses not to believe in God. He refuses to lie or pretend to be something that he is not, simply to please others and to conform....