The Use of Dark and Light Imagery in “the Outsider” and Woman at Point Zero” to Convey Change in Mood and Pace

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The use of dark and light imagery in “The Outsider” and Woman at Point Zero” to convey change in mood and pace

The use of dark and light imagery in “The Outsider” and Woman at Point Zero” to convey change in mood and pace

In analyzing these two novels; ‘The Outsider’ and ‘Woman at Point Zero’, there is an obvious similarity. Both Albert Camus and Nawal El Saadawi, the authors of these two narratives, use dark and light imagery to change the mood and pace of their text. In ‘The outsider’, Mersault is notified of his mother's death. He attends her funeral, yet expresses none of the emotion typical and expected in such a circumstance. In the next few days, his neighbor, Raymond Sintès, along with Mersault’s girlfriend Marie, are invited to spend the day at a chalet, just outside their town. When Raymond, Mersault and Mason went for a walk along the beach, they were confronted by some Arabs who were seeking revenge of the fact that Raymond had hurt one of the Arab’s sister. They confront Raymond and wound him with a knife. Later, walking on the beach alone, Mersault, now armed with a pistol, encounters the Arab friend and shoots him dead; the shooting is partly influenced by the sun's glare. This is one of many examples that Albert Camus uses this kind of imagery when describing Mersault’s situation. Similarly, Nawal El Saadawi is a psychologist trying to learn the story of Firdaus while she is in prison awaiting execution. Firdaus then narrates the story of her life. She takes readers through her disorderly childhood, from being abused and witnessing the abuse of her mother by her father, to her mysterious female circumcision as a young woman. We are told that she is molested by her uncle, and the one person she loved, betrayed her. She is then exploited by pimps, and then the most cruel- the persistent taunting of men, women, and law enforcement- as she struggles to live an adult life she has been given no tools to live. Firdaus however, has a tendency to be observant of people’s eyes and focus on the black and white rings.

Both these books use the different colors of dark and light, under different context, to bring about a certain pace and mood to the passage. At Mersaults’ mothers’ funeral, he describes the things he sees there as very bright and shiny. “It was a very bright room with whitewashed walls and a glass roof.”[1] Also, “The lid was on, but a row of shiny screws, which hadn’t yet been tightened down, stood out against the walnut-stained wood. Near the coffin there was an Arab nurse in a white overall, with a brightly colored scarf on her head.”[2] These are both long sentences. This shows that the character is rambling and taking note of every little thing in the room he is in. The fact that he doesn’t really relate to his mother’s death shows his type of character. He is very relaxed and nonchalant about the whole situation. At this moment, the pace is quick. He is only taking the necessary time he needs to make an observation about something and tell us about it. In a situation where everyone else is showing their emotional affectedness at the funeral, “she was crying regularly, in little sobs: I thought she was never going to stop. The others didn’t seem to notice,”[3] Mersault gets annoyed at the fact that other people are letting out their emotions. He starts to wonder why they start to cry and look at him. This shows that they are judging him because he doesn’t show emotion. However, Mersault does not seem to let this affect him. Instead he pays attention to another observation he makes, “What struck me the most about heir faces was that I couldn’t see their eyes, but only a faint glimmer among a nest of wrinkles.”[4] Again, reference to bright objects is made but this time he describes their faces. He does this hear to show how they feel about the scenario. The fact that they have a ‘faint glimmer’ shows that they are not happy. There is no ‘shine’ or ‘glow’ in...
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