"Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.' That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday." Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 3
Mersault's preoccupation with the exact date that his mother had passed genuinely perplexed me. This man had just lost his only family in the world and he was caught up in, what I believe to be, a frivolous detail. Off the bat, the book starts off with these lines, foreshadowing the disposition of a man that I have never before encountered. A man who speaks more how hot it was the day of his mother's funeral, than about how the death of his mother has effected him. A man who shows minimal emotion after what I would consider to be life altering events, the death of a mother and the act of murder. Instead of saying he was devastated about his mothers passing, or that he wishes he was with her during her last moments, he speaks very little about the emotional impact of a huge loss.
On August 28th of this year, my grandfather passed away. He was 94 years old and died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the Dominican Republic. Three weeks later, on September 16, his wife and partner for 60 years, my grandmother, passed under similar conditions. While I cannot say for certainty, I believe she died of heartbreak. She was never the same after losing her partner, her best friend and the love of her life. My family and I were informed via telephone the day after their passing because their rural community of San Cristobal is frequently without phone service. I remember both phone calls rather vividly, as my rather had placed both on speaker phone. I remember the heartbreak that I felt, the devastation, the loneliness, but I do not remember anyone asking what date and time either of them passed. Instead, we all cried together and embraced each other. Particularly in the loss of my grandmother, I realize how death can impact a person's soul. My grandmother was once a lively, upbeat woman. However, after his passing, through the entire funeral and the few days I spent with her after, I never saw her smile again. Her happiness was taken from her, and she could no longer go back to the person she was before. While her case is extreme, I do believe the loss she felt is a sentiment that others who have lost a loved one can relate to.
Mersault, on the other hand, is an exception to this rule. The day after his mother's funeral he went swimming and spent the day flirting with a former co-worker. He kept living his life, without one tear shed, as if the loss of the woman that had brought him into this world had not occurred. While I believe that everyone is entitled to grieve in their own manner, Mersault's actions did not reflect those of a man that was grieving a loss. Instead, Mersault seemed almost inconvenienced by her passing because of the long travel to his mother's home as well as the long, hot walk he had to endure behind the Hearst that took his mother to her final resting spot. His actions showed Mersault to be a self-absorbed man. His mother's funeral was a venue for him to express how tired he was and how hot he was, not to discuss what kind of person his mother was and how she had helped him throughout his life. It was Mersault's world and everyone else was just living in it.
"I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn't see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn't unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered." Part 1, Chapter 5, pg. 41
This is the first time in the story that I felt a sense of pity towards Mersault. I pity any man who finds himself without ambition, without dreams, without hope of a better, more positive future. I quickly realized that Mersault was a man who had no aspirations. Mersault plainly expresses his indifference in progressing...
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