The Stranger | egauteng.info
She is how Meursault wishes his mother would have been to you: soft, supple, When it comes to marriage, the fear of commitment represents the definite, the. 65) Why does the prosecutor think that there is a “direct and tragic relationship" between Meursault's burial of his mother and his crime? (p. 96) Why does the. Musa,” an excerpt from “The Meursault Investigation,” is narrated by the Do your narrator and his mother have an unusual relationship?.
In fact, Meursault comments on her name, saying, "[W]hen he told me the woman's name I realized she was Moorish. He wants to cut her nose off in the traditional manner of marking a prostitute. Finally, her brothers and his friends begin to follow Raymond. It is this nameless group of Arabs who Meursault, Masson, and Raymond encounter at the beach. One member of the group is found by Meursault alone and is shot. The issue of race is the most troubling and unresolved issue of the novel. If one reads the novel solely in terms of the theme of absurdity, the action of the story makes sense—in a meaningless sort of way.
However, read in terms of a lesson on human morality and the ethics of the Western tradition wherein a white man goes through a struggle—or agon—in the land of the "Other," then the story is very contradictory and highly problematic.
Meursault certainly does arrive at a "truth," but that arrival was at the cost of a man's life as well as a ruined love. Free Will Though the possession of a free will is taken for granted by most people, the presentation of its "freeness" in The Stranger is rather unsettling. Meursault consistently expresses his awareness of his own will as free. In some instances, this might be interpreted as indifference, but Meursault is decidedly, perhaps starkly, free.
He does not feel the temptation to encumber his reasoning with considerations or dogmas. For example, he is never worried and is repeatedly doing a systems check on his body—he declares states of hunger, whether he feels well, and that the temperature is good or the sun is too hot. These are important considerations to Meursault, and they pass the time. Conversely, the magistrate is frustrated, tired, and clings to his belief in God.
Meursault discerns that the magistrate finds life's meaning only through this belief. But when the magistrate asks if Meursault is suggesting he should be without belief, Meursault replies that it has nothing to do with him one way or the other.
This is because the only things that should concern Mersault, he decides, are elemental factors, such as keeping his body comfortably cool. Style Narrative Psychological self-examinations are common in French first-person narratives, but Camus's The Stranger gave the technique of psychological depth a new twist at the time it was published.
Instead of allowing the protagonist to detail a static psychology for the reader, the action and behavior were given to the reader to decipher. Camus did this because he felt that "psychology is action, not thinking about oneself. He tells only what he is thinking and perceiving, he does not interrupt with commentary. By narrating the story this way, through the most indifferent person, the reader is also drawn into Meursault's perspective.
The audience feels the absurdity of the events. However, other characters, who do not even have the benefit of hearing the whole of Meursault's story as the book's readers do, prefer their ideas of him. They are only too ready to make their judgments at the trial. Moreover, they readily condemn him to death as a heartless killer without regret Structure and Language Camus's narration was immediately recognized as extremely innovative. His language, while recognized as similar to the American "Hemingway style," was seen as so appropriate to the task as to be hardly borrowed.
The style that Camus uses is one of direct speech that does not allow much description. He chose that style because it backed up his narrative technique. The reader is focused on the characters' reactions and behavior as they are related through Meursault.
Camus also divided the story at the murder. Part one opens with the death of Maman and ends with the murder of the Arab.
In part two of the novel, Meursault is in prison and at the end is awaiting his execution. The division reinforces the importance of Meursault in the universe of the story. Normality is jarred throughout the first part until it dissolves into chaos because of the murder. The second half shows the force of law entering to reestablish meaning and therefore bring back order through the death of Meursault.
The structure and the language, then, are technically at one with the greater theme of absurdity. Setting Environment is a very important element to Meursault. He reports the heat of rooms, the way that the sun affects him, and all the other conditions of the habitat he lives in. The story itself is set around the city of Algiers and the beach. It is always daytime and the sun is always out.
Curiously, in the universe of The Stranger there is no night, no darkness outside of mental obscurity. Things happen overnight, but no plot action occurs in the dark. The only moment when darkness does threaten is at the start of the vigil, but the caretaker dispels the darkness with the electric light.
Other things that happen overnight include private encounters with Marie we assume and the verdict, which is read at eight o'clock at night. However, the novel's events occur during the day, long days that are hardly differentiated from each other. Such facts of time emphasize the absurdity of Meursault; everything is meaningless except for the current state of the body in the environment. Foreshadowing This technique is used to indicate a happening before it occurs, and this foretelling can be foreboding.
A disturbing moment for Meursault, as well as the unsuspecting reader, occurs while Meursault is sitting near his Maman's coffin. For a second I had the ridiculous feeling that they were there to judge me. The way in which Meursault honors his mother has everything to do with his guilt.
In other words, the sense of judgement he felt from those sitting across from him at the funeral vigil foreshadowed the solitary condemnation at the trial.
Historical Context Algeria Resuming a policy of imperialist expansion after the Napoleonic era, France invaded Algeria in The French soon controlled the city of Algiers and some coastal areas, but not until did they subdue the whole region.
France sent settlers to colonize the conquered region, but even as late as the French in Algeria were outnumbered 9 to 1.
However, they were not too keen on resisting the Americans, and when General Eisenhower landed in November ofhe met little resistance. That invasion prevented Camus from leaving France and joining his wife in Algeria until the liberation of France in Throughout the rest of the war, the Algerian independence movement grew due to contact with other Westerners—British and American soldiers.
The independence movement continued to grow after the war but was violently put down by French troops. Unable to deliver on the promise of the new constitution, the FLN began a war of independence with France in ByCharles de Gaulle agreed to grant the country independence.
However, the Allied cause did not look good. France had fallen to the Germans, and British troops were pushed from their holdings in the Pacific to India by the Japanese. On the Russian front, the Germans seemed to be on the verge of capturing Stalingrad when they attacked in February. This attack took the form of a gruesome siege. There was still hope, however, because both the British and the Russians refused to give in. Geography aided the Russians and the superiority of the Royal Air Force made the siege of Britain hazardous.
Summer began and the Allies started to gain against the Axis Powers. American troops were more successful than not in flooding the Allies with needed supplies through their base in Iceland.
This decisive victory ended Japanese expansion in the Pacific and irreparably crippled their naval strength. In November, Eisenhower led a joint British-U.
In Russia, the Germans were still unable to claim victory since the Russian army was refusing to give way. In the end Russia lostsoldiers throughout the year. The Germans gained against the Russians only to lose all but eighty thousand men, who survived by cannibalism, and surrendered by February of Slowly the tide was turning against the Germans. Critical Overview The success of The Stranger has been matched by an unceasing flow of criticism. Most of that criticism has been a positive affirmation of Camus's place as a master of French literature.
One reviewer even described Camus as the writer America had been waiting for since Hemingway. The criticism has also had the effect, good or bad, of rendering the novel a moral treatise. This occurred early on when Jean-Paul Sartre reviewed the work in and said, among other things, that with this work "Albert Camus takes his place in the great tradition of those French moralists.
Algeria is a French colony under Nazi occupation. The political party which established Algeria as an independent nation has lost power to more fundamentalist groups. Mahatma Gandhi is imprisoned as a part of the British government crack-down on India's demand for independence. Independent India has a population of just under billion people and, according to Bill Gatesis soon to catch up with the United States in terms of technological sophistication.
India's middle class is currently the largest of any nation on Earth. In peace time, the U. Taking the cue from Sartre, other reviewers of the s matched the novel with Camus's writings in The Myth of Sisyphus and criticized Camus's ability to handle Heidegger and Kierkegaard.
Richard Plant, however, did not seem to need the heavy guns of philosophy to enjoy the novel, according to his article "Benign Indifference.
Plant says that the way Camus handles the shooting of the Arab should serve as a model to Americans of the "tough school. The strife of the decade, accompanied by ailing health, gave Camus a horrendous writing block and left him silent but for a few rare occasions. Critics generally enjoyed The Plague of and The Fall of His Nobel prize was seen as well deserved.
Two exceptions to the above were Norman Podhoretz and Colin Wilson. The latter wrote a book in detailing the trend in modernity, and its fiction, toward a hero who stood for truth. Wilson entitled this work in honor of Camus's novel—in its British translation—as The Outsider. This character is defined as follows: The Outsider's case against society is very clear. All men and women have these dangerous, unnamable impulses, yet they keep up a pretense, to themselves, to others; their respectability, their philosophy, their religion, are all attempts to gloss over, to make look civilized and rational something that is savage, unorganized, irrational.
He is an Outsider because he stands for [this] Truth. Sartre wrote similarly about the phenomenon Camus's Stranger represented. However, Sartre believed such a being had a place in society whereas Wilson was simply recording a literary trend. Podhoretz was also interested in this new hero. Inhe credited Camus with the correct identification of this new hero.
Exemplifying the criticism that arose in the face of his death, Henri Peyre wrote in a article, "Camus the Pagan," "the works of Camus, as they stand interrupted by fate, utter a pagan message which is to be set beside that of the great pagans of antiquity and that of some of the modern pagans to who Christianity owes an immense debt of gratitude.
Writing in a introduction to "Camus: The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus, and the two plays Caligula and The Misunderstanding, together with Camus's role in the Resistance and the widespread interest in his Combat editorials, started his career in meteoric fashion. InDonald Lazere wrote, "The Stranger, like the Myth, asserts the primacy of individual, flesh-and-blood reality against any abstract notion that claims to supersede it.
Philip Thody, in "Camus's L'Etranger Revisited"wrote that despite the fact that Camus championed the cause of Algerian independence in his journalism, he did not escape or confront colonialism in his fiction.
For support Thody points to the obvious and striking absence of names for Algerians. Neither the nurse who has an abscessRaymond's girlfriend, nor the Arabs who follow Raymond have names. They are simply part of the scenery affecting Meursault when he pulls the trigger. Moser Moser is an assistant professor at the University of California -Davis.
In the following excerpt, Moser describes The Stranger in terms of its Existential elements, Camus's philosophy of the absurd, and other viewpoints.
The Stranger is probably Albert Camus's best known and most widely read work. Through the singular viewpoint of the narrator Meursault, Camus presents a philosophy devoid of religious belief and middle-class morality, where sentience and personal honesty become the bases of a happy and responsible life. What perhaps strikes the reader first about The Stranger is the unemotional tone of the narrator, Meursault.
Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I received a telegram from the retirement home: It could have been yesterday …" Meursault's flat response to the death of his mother conveys a sense of resignation, one supported by his lack of ambition at work and his indifference in personal relationships. Save for his tirade against the chaplain at the end of the novel, Meursault remains rather monotone throughout; his only pleasures are immediate and physical: Thus, from the opening words, Camus projects his remarkable philosophy through an unremarkable protagonist: Camus's simplistic narrative style, influenced by the journalistic tradition of Hemingway and his own experience as a reporter, helps to convey the sense of immediacy that lies at the foundation of his philosophy.
What Do I Read Next? There, through a collection of essays, he explains his position on the absurd at the time of writing The Stranger. Camus was regarded as the conscience of occupied France for his writings in Combat. For that paper he wrote such editorials as Neither Victims Nor Executioners printed in the fall of and reprinted in by Dwight Macdonald. This piece argued the logical basis of an anti-war stance consistent with his own theories.
He argued that murder is never legitimate, silence between those in disagreement is intolerable, and fear must be understood. In short, he defined a modest position "free of messianism and disencumbered of nostalgia for an earthly paradise.
In this novel, a town is struck by plague but survives not by beliefs and prayer but through the rational investigation and practice of medical science. There are other works which deal with the theme of absurdity.
One very famous work was a play written by an Irishman who also took part in the French Resistance. The play is Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Camus worked in the Resistance with Sartre but they had a falling out after the war. Sartre, more than Camus, exemplifies the philosophy of existentialism.
Another existentialist was Simone de Beauvoir. She is best know for The Second Sex. Inshe wrote an existential novel entitled She Comes to Stay. It is an interesting contrast to Camus's novel of the year before. From a literary standpoint, The Stranger offers aspects that complement both modern and tradi-tional sensibilities.
With regards to the former, the story is presented as the subjective experience of a first-person narrator. We do not know his first name, what he looks like, or precisely when the action of the story takes place. He does not divulge much information about his past, nor does he attempt to present a cohesive view of, or opinion about, the society in which he lives and works. In a more classical vein, The Stranger offers order and balance. The novel is organized into two parts of equal length, and the central episode of the book—the shooting of the Arab—is both preceded and followed by five chapters.
Themes are maintained with strict focus: Within the story Camus creates scenes of explicit parallel and contrast.
Why is Albert Camus Still a Stranger in His Native Algeria?
The noise of Salamano cursing his dog directly precedes the screams of the Moorish woman as Raymond beats her; both relationships share qualities of physical love and abuse. One might argue that Camus's sense of literary balance is an attempt to put into practice an existential philosophy: The Stranger and its author have often been linked to Existentialism, a post-World War II philosophy that has become synonymous with the name of Jean-Paul Sartre — Although Camus was a one-time friend and supporter of Sartre, he denied being an existentialist.
Nevertheless, there are clear existential themes in the The Stranger, a product of the intellectual climate of the times. Camus's preoccupation with the nature of being, for example, and his rejection of reason and order in the universe, are both existential concerns.
When Camus presents the Arab's murder as the result of a random series of events, and Meursault refuses to lie in court to help win his case, we enter into existential realms of human action and responsibility. There is no outside force governing our lives, according to the existentialists; individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. Meursault's ultimate vindication is in having remained true to himself and to his feelings in a society that cultivates deception and hypocrisy.
Since its publication, critics have interpreted Meursault's plight in many ways. From a mythic or structuralist viewpoint, Meursault reenacts a timeless struggle of an individual caught up in the forces of fate, driven toward the murder by divine powers acting through the sun and the sea.
In psychological readings, the protagonist acts out issues held by the author: Poststructuralist accounts concentrate on the novel's language and Meursault's inability to explain his actions adequately in court. This inability should be read as the failure of language, these latter critics argue, since it lies outside of reality, and not that of society's justice system or of its moral code. If there is a reading Camus himself preferred it was one that took into account his philosophy of the absurd.
Many readers, following Sartre's first review of the novel inlook to Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus for the most revealing commentary on the work. Published the year after The Stranger, the essay defines the absurd as arising from the meeting of two elements: Meursault's ultimate dignity resides in the knowledge that his quest for meaning will always go unfulfilled; happiness is achieved only in a life without illusions.
Meursault's name itself has been associated with the environment that affects him so strongly throughout the novel. In French, mer means "sea"; sol means "sun. Suddenly scorched by a hot blast of wind from the sea, blinded by the sweat in his eyes, Meursault fires the revolver and shatters the silence of the day.
Later, in court, he will tell the judge that he killed the Arab "because of the sun. This meeting between man and nature, like all such meetings, ends in a meaningless act. All that remains is for him to acknowledge what he has done.
Not surprisingly, much commentary has focused on the colonialist aspects of the novel, above all because the victim of the murder is an Arab. Camus's philosophy of the absurd may point to the murder as meaningless, but during a time of straining relations between Arabs and French war broke out in between France and Algeria and concluded in with Algerian independencethe killing of an Arab by a French-Algerian could have been interpreted, and was, as a meaningful act indeed.
A critic of colonialist oppression and a proponent of social justice for Muslims, Camus—a pied-noir or Frenchman born in Algeria—is nevertheless silent in his novel on the volatile political issues of the time. Although not depicted as social inferiors, Muslims in the novel are relegated to the periphery: Camus considered himself an "Algerian" writer, yet his two-dimensional treatment of Arabs in the novel has, for some, aligned him more on the side of the French.
Early on in his career, Camus planned out the stages that his work would follow. The Stranger belongs to the first stage of his writing career, a period that also includes such titles as The Myth of Sisyphus and Caligula. The Stranger projects a "zero point," according to the author, an "absurd" state of existence reduced to immediate sensations. Camus's later works, informed by his years working in the French Resistance and his experience with totalitarian governments, move beyond the leveling effect created by The Stranger and build upon positive social values.
The Just Assassins and The Plague, belonging to the later period, recount tales of community, justice, and solidarity. Moser, in an essay for Novels for Students, Gale, Susan Tarrow In the following excerpt, Tarrow discusses the development of the novel's principal character, Meursault, "from an acquiescent figure who admits no limits to a combatant who claims the right to be different.
It calls into question many aspects of an oppressive colonial regime: It is an ironic condemnation of colonialist and racist attitudes. If the hero Meursault has a moral message—and the reference to him as a Christ figure would suggest that he has—it is one that plays a constant role in Camus's thought; there are no absolutes to which one can adhere, only limits, and the vital nuances are played out within those limits. Total indifference and apathy allow others to act without limits.
Meursault develops from an acquiescent figure who admits no limits to a combatant who claims the right to be different. The story has a simple plot. Meursault, a clerk in an Algiers shipping office, attends his mother's funeral at an old people's home in Marengo.
The following day he goes swimming, meets an old friend, Marie, takes her to see a Fernandel movie, and initiates an affair with her the same evening. With another friend, Raymond, he spends a Sunday on the beach with Marie, where they encounter three Arabs, one of whom has a grudge against Raymond.
In the ensuing confrontation, Meursault shoots one of the Arabs. The second half of the novel relates Meursault's trial and conviction, and his growing self-awareness during the months in prison.
After being sentenced to death, he affirms his own system of values and rejects that of established society. Meursault's experience is a succession of presents. During the transition from Mersault to Meursault, Camus changed the form of the narrative: The author leaves his hero in a situation where he is dominated by the power of language rather than in control of it; language is equivalent to destiny. Camus's concern with language is evident in The Stranger.
It is true that Meursault was once a student; but in rejecting ambition, he also rejected the value of an intellectual life. Rational thought is not worth the linguistic effort involved. Ironically enough, misinterpretation is not limited to Meursault.
The French authorities misinterpret too. Meursault is someone who has "given up language and replaced it with actual revolt. He has chosen to do what Christ scorned to do: Meursault, who places no reliance on language, throws down the gauntlet but fails to justify his action in the eyes of the world.
Meursault refuses to play the game, to be part of the family. The authority figures are all predisposed to be kind to Meursault: It is only when he says no that they begin to resent him; he declines to view his mother's body, he turns down a promotion that would take him to Paris, he refuses to recognize the Cross, or to misrepresent the details of his case. When he says yes, it is to the "wrong" things: During the trial, it becomes clear that Meursault is being tried not for his action, but for his attitudes.
The ironic presentation of the prosecutor's arguments, in which the narrator's use of free indirect discourse shows up the emptiness of the rhetoric, makes the trial seem farcical. Indeed one could assert that Meursault is innocent with respect to the invalid reasons for guilt attributed by the prosecution: Bearing in mind the trials in Algeria that Camus covered as a journalist, one could conclude that the parodic deformation is mild, for in many of those cases the charges were politically motivated, the witnesses bribed, and the verdict a foregone conclusion.
It is true that Meursault makes no effort to defend himself; but it is because he does not understand the ideas behind the verbiage, nor the consequences of his own words and deeds. I told her it didn't mean anything but that I didn't think so.
First off in this quote he says he doesn't think that love means anything or this intimate moment between them meant anything, then he goes on to say that he doesn't love her if he believed in love. This is important because it shows and explains things about Meursault.
Previously in the book he showed lot of emotion towards Marie, yet we learn that he never even had real feelings for her or barely felt anything. This could connect with why he doesn't show any emotion with the death of his mother also.
This emotional detachment shows some of Albert Camus' ideas of existentialism and life not having any meaning. If we think of his idea before absurdity referenced in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, we see the idea of this killing nothingness and not accepting that or accepting the absurdity therefore being lifeless.
A few blocks north, I can just make out Les Sablettes, the popular beach where Camus spent many a summer day.
Ms. Ballard's Classroom Blog: Stranger Day Period 2
I push open the heavy metal gate and approach the late 19th-century Beaux-Arts relic, with curving, filigreed outdoor staircases. The stucco facade is peeling away. An intermittent drizzle washes over acres of Roman ruins that extend to the edges of the cliffs. Tipasa, originally a Phoenician settlement, was captured by the Romans and developed into an important port nearly 2, years ago.
In his teens and 20s he and his friends would travel here by bus from Algiers and picnic among first-century temples and villas, and a fourth-century Christian basilica. Constantly short of breath, he was forced to abandon a promising soccer career, and would suffer relapses throughout his life.
Despite the often-debilitating illness, he graduated in from the University of Algiers with a philosophy degree. They shut down the paper and blacklisted Camus, making him unemployable as a journalist. Said and I follow a trail along the cliffs, past grazing goats and gnarled olive trees.
We thread through a field of truncated columns and tread gingerly across the disintegrating mosaic floor of a ruined villa. Raoul came back armed with a small-caliber pistol, but the Arabs were arrested before he could pull the trigger.
From this encounter, Camus fashioned the novel that has come to define him. Later, on a beach much like Bouisseville, Meursault encounters an Arab with a knife and shoots him to death for no other apparent reason than the unnerving brightness and heat.
The sun that drove Meursault to distraction, then murder, is today buried behind a heavy cloud cover, typical of the Mediterranean winter. Trash covers the curving sweep of sand, a faint odor of urine is in the air and the beachfront is lined with dilapidated French villas, many abandoned. He directs us down the beach toward a trickle of raw sewage flowing into the sea. The Stranger was published into ecstatic reviews.
It earned the respect of Jean-Paul Sartre, the Left Bank philosopher with whom Camus soon formed a tempestuous friendship. Infifteen-year-old Olivier Todd found a dog-eared copy in the cupboard of a Jewish woman who had lent Todd and his mother her apartment in occupied Paris after she had fled the Nazis.
He found a job as a reporter for a newspaper in Lyon, a city under control of the collaborationist Vichy government. In Januaryhe married Francine Faure, a beautiful pianist and math teacher from Oran. But the same month, facing wartime privation, censorship and the threat of losing his job, Camus returned with his wife to Oran.
Late on a January afternoon, after a six-hour drive from Algiers, I arrive in Oran, a city of one and a half million near the Moroccan border.
The narrow street where Camus and Francine lived during his Algerian interlude is lined in faded-white buildings. Camus often whiled away the hours at the nearby Brasserie la Cintra on an avenue flanked by date palms.
Camus was unemployed, debilitated by tuberculosis and appalled by the surge of anti-Semitism under the Vichy regime. More thanAlgerian Jews lost their French citizenship. But, says Todd, Camus also found much to love about the city.