The Stranger

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In The Stranger by Albert Camus is a novel with multiple themes. This is probably one of the most theme rich novels I have ever read and I only touched on a few of the key themes presented in the novel. The themes are mortality, isolation, nature, religion, women, passivity, and society’s social class. The Stranger opens with an announcement of death; Salamano’s old dog is in a state of decay; the protagonist murders, and is then sentenced to execution. The centrality of death, as a concept, is perhaps Camus’s way of forcing us to confront the continuum of varying attitudes on this universal, yet distinctly absurdist, theme. In The Stranger, death is inevitable and does not lead to an afterlife. The novel concludes with the revelation that death is what makes all men – indeed all living creatures – equal. Everyone has to die, therefore no one man is privileged over any other man (or living being). The Stranger focuses on one man’s isolation from society hence the title The Stranger, from friends, from his lover, from human emotion, and eventually from normal logic. This isolation is self-prescribed; the main character isn’t exiled by any means. He separates himself from everything. Of course, at first he doesn’t view this as a choice at all; isolation is simply the path of least resistance, the series of activities that requires the least activity and effort. By the end of the novel, the narrator realizes that he has the ability to choose; that if he wants, he can wish for a large crowd of people, he can desire to be less alone. Or he can stay as he is. But he is conscious of his own ability to decide.

The theme of nature also presents itself in the novel. The narrator’s actions is often dictated by the slightest changes in weather. Citing the scorching sun as the reason for murder, however, his unbelievable story is met with a trip to the guillotine. The Stranger investigates the extent to which man is affected by nature or may be said to be one with...
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