Society’s Perception of Meursault’s Character
In “The Stranger”
By Albert Camus
Everybody’s life is shaped by their reputation. This is why people try to look good in the eyes of others, so they will have a good opinion. The main character in The Stranger astonishes others because he simply does not care about his reputation and what the society thinks of him. Meursault lives his life in a non-complex environment, not worrying about the events happening around him. However, this plays a trick on him in a way that people don’t understand him and conclude that he is different in a monstrous way. His reaction to his mother’s death, his decision on not marrying and incapability of believing in God stuns the public, which starts questioning his behavior even more. The society in The Stranger has never crossed ways with such a complex person, who is incapable of having or showing any emotion, as Meursault. Because of his ignoble act of murder his future is shaped by the opinion of people, who also manage to twist his world. The narrator’s surprisingly ample reaction to his mother’s death makes the society question his capability of feeling pain or in that matter anything. He opens the story with, “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” (Camus 3). The simplicity of his sentence structure and language hints that he is not very irritated by this shocking news. When a parent dies a person is supposed to feel pain, cry or at least show some emotion of being hurt, but Meursault’s behavior is apathetic. He seems calm throughout the funeral and even after that which comes as a bigger shock to the public when this fact is brought to the trial. The narrator does not understand how his reaction is wrong and continues trying to make others understand his point of view. He begins with his lawyer, “Mostly, I...
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