The Stranger Essay, Research Paper
Camus entitled his novel The Stranger because his protagonist actually was a stranger to
both his associates and his surroundings. Monsieur Meursault was never really known by
anyone. Nobody ever knew what really made Meursault tick and nobody ever really
knew what motivated him. Meursault was a wanderer throughout his life. Meursault was
also a stranger because he did not understand other people?s motivations either.
Meursault formed relationships easily enough and interacted with others. But, it
was obvious that Meursault interacted in these relationships the way other people
expected him to. For example, when Meursault invited Salamano into his house, he
eventually became bored with Salamano. ?He was getting on my nerves a little, but I
didn?t have anything to do and I didn?t feel sleepy. Just for something to say, I asked him
about his dog? (Camus, 44). This and other thoughts reveal quite a bit about Meursault.
Meursault is brutally honest with himself. He is, however, polite. Despite not
really wanting to talk with Salamano, Meursault asks him about his lost dog. The
conversation continues and Meursault reveals another thought that tells the reader he is
talking only to please Salamano: ?I said he (the dog) was well bred and Salamano looked
pleased? (Camus, 45). Here, the reader sees that Meursault notices that he is doing well
in the conversation and he takes note of it.
Meursault is also very distant from everyone he meets and interacts with. He was
distant at his mother?s funeral and he was distant with Marie and he was distant with the
police both times he was questioned. At Maman?s funeral, Meursault paid more attention
to his surroundings, the nurse with the bandaged face, the bright sunlight and the
caretaker than he did his mother?s body. He did not even enter a time of mourning.
Meursault did not want to look at his mother or have the casket opened. Instead, he drank
coffee and smoked cigarettes. This proves Meursault?s distance from his mother.
Meursault also is distant with the woman who eventually should become his fiancee. He
enjoys Marie?s company. But, it seems like her enjoys her as a woman rather than as an
individual. Marie?s breasts seem to be Meursault favorite part about her.
Meursault is also distant when dealing with the police. It appears as if he is
watching himself deal with other people while outside of his own body. He reports the
lawyers? and judge?s questioning matter of factly and stoically. One passage that involves
the courtroom and the variety of people in it, shows how alone Meursault really was: ?I
noticed then that everyone was waving and exchanging greetings and talking, as if they
were in a club where people are glad to find themselves among others from the same
world? (Camus, 84). Unfortunately for Meursault, nearly everyone is in a club that he is
not a member of. Meursault is in his own exclusive club of which he is the only member.
In the very last sentence of The Stranger, Meursault embraces his aloneness: ?For
everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a
large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with dries of
hate? (Camus, 123). This is after Meursault thinks about his imprisonment and how
being imprisoned is so much different from being a free man.
After reading The Stranger, a reader can see that the stranger in this novel is
Meursault himself. He is almost totally alone in the world without any true friends. He is
only an observer and a stranger to everyone.
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