AP College English Kinnan
An Inside Look on The Stranger
As human beings, we are constantly aspiring to become great: handsomely rich, looked upon idolly by all, appraised for our successes, prized for the work we do. In Albert Camus’ climactic novel translated as The Stranger, Monsieur Meursault acts as a standalone voice in a wave of absurd social expectations, in which by being condemned to death for murdering an Arabic man in coldblood, he comes to the overbearing realization of the pointlessness of repenting for his sins, dwelling aimlessly on the consequences of death, and blindly adhering to the high value of life, and life after death, that his community has set into place around him. In the beginning of the novel, Meursault is portrayed as an almost soulless being incapable of remorse, grief, and an understanding of social cues. However, by the end of the story, he is better understood as a man that accepts his fate as one inexorably condemned to death as all men are equally. Meursault’s constant reliance for happiness and fulfillment on sensory pleasures and his reluctance to show emotion at his mother’s funeral demonstrate Camus’ indirect prescription for happiness to the reader: once you grasp the principle that death is inevitable and suffering is fruitless, you can become truly happy and unreliant on hope. Throughout The Stranger, Meursault relies heavily on sensory pleasures and the minute details of life that make him happy. For example, a couple of days after his mother’s funeral, before returning to work, Meursault washes his hands and defines the importance of the towel he uses not being a roller towel as he dislikes drying his hands on a soaked towel. He then
nonchalantly brings this notion up to his boss and he tells Meursault that it is a minor detail. Although slight, this example from the text demonstrates that Meursault dwells on small details ...
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